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Library of the Marine Corps 




^ER* X 



3000177924^ JpECTI y ES 

ON 

WARFIGHTING 

Number Four 
Second Edition 



CENTERS OF GRAVITY 

& 

CRITICAL VULNERABILITIES: 

Building on the Clausewitzian Foundation 
SaThat We Can All Speak the Same Language 



by 

Dr. Joe Strange 
Marine Corps War College 




^GT C40RCL 

Marine Corps University 5107 

Perspectives on Warfighting 
Number Four 
Second Edition 

CENTERS OF GRAVITY 

& 

CRITICAL VULNERABILITIES: 



Building on the Clause witzian Foundation 
So That We Can All Speak the Same Language 




by 

Dr. Joe Strange 
Marine Gorps War College 7 p p 



- 



Li 



*37?t7es>.9 



Printing of this second edition of Perspectives on Warfighting, Number 
Four is funded by the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity; Quantico, Virginia. 
No portion of this manuscript may be reproduced or stored in anyway except as 
authorized by law. Upon request, active and reserve military units will be freely 
given permission to reproduce this issue to assist in their training and 
professional military education. 

Copyright 1996 by the Marine Corps University Foundation. 

This second edition printed by contract via the 

Defense Automated Printing Service Center; Quantico, Virginia; 

with the permission of the Marine Corps University Foundation. 

The Emblem of the U.S. Marine Corps depicted on the front cover is used 
courtesy of The Triton Collection, New York, N.Y. This emblem is available as 
a full color print or poster for sale at the Marine Corps Association Bookstore. 



Centers of Gravity 



Editorial Policy 
Perspectives on Warfighting 



The Marine Corps University's Perspectives on Warfighting is 
a series of occasional papers, edited by the Marine Corps 
University, funded (*) by the Marine Corps University Foundation, 
and published (*) by the Marine Corps Association. 

Funding and publication are available to scholars whose 
proposals are accepted on the basis of their scholastic and 
experiential backgrounds as well as fulfillment of our editorial 
policy requirements. We require: (1) a focus on warfighting; (2) 
relevance to the combat mission of the Marine Corps; (3) a basis of 
combat history; and, (4) a high standard of scholarly research and 
writing. 

The Marine Corps University's Perspectives on Warfighting are 
studies of the art of war. History is the basis for the study of war. 
It is through such study that we may deduce our tactics, operational 
art, and strategy for the future. Though the basis of the series 
Perspectives on Warfighting is history, they are not papers about 
history. They are papers about warfare. By study, discussion, and 
application, we shall learn to fight and win our nation's battles and 
wars. 

(*) Second Edition 
Funding and Printing 

Funding for the second edition of this monograph was provided 
by the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity; Quantico, Virginia. 
This second edition was printed by contract via the Defense 
Automated Printing Service Center; Quantico, Virginia; with the 
permission of the Marine Corps University Foundation. 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



Marine Corps University 



Introduction 



In line with the increased emphasis by the Chairman of the 
Joint Chiefs of Staff on the warfighting and employment aspects of 
campaign planning, combatant commanders are now required to 
specify in JSCP directed OPLANS how they intend to fight their 
forces. Additionally, the Chairman has directed that certain 
campaign plan elements be incorporated into the CINCs* deliberate 
plans. These elements include phasing of operations; strategic and 
operational centers of gravity, both friendly and enemy \ and, the 
commander's overall intent as well as intent by phase. Inclusion of 
these elements not only provides the National Command 
Authorities a basis to establish intertheater priorities, but more 
importantly, these elements provide a focus to the planners and 
warfighters responsible for coordinating multiple operations into a 
single campaign and then executing that campaign. 

Effective preparation and execution of war plans require that 
Joint planners share and apply a common mature understanding of 
the relationship between centers of gravity and critical 
vulnerabilities. A solid grasp of this relationship is essential to the 
art of war. Despite the importance of these terms, current Joint and 
Service doctrinal manuals and publications still reflect divergent 
interpretations. Moreover, the base-line definition of centers of 
gravity proscribed in Joint Pub 3-0 is flawed to begin with, in that 
it is at odds with Clausewitz and the commonly understood 
meaning of the term. For example, according to the Joint Pub 
definition, neither Saddam Hussein nor the Republican Guard 
would be considered Iraqi centers of gravity during the recent 
Persian Gulf War. 

This monograph by Dr. Joe Strange of the Marine Corps War 
College is a welcome step toward solving these challenges. Dr. 
Strange contends that we should retain the current concept of 
critical vulnerabilities, but should return to the original 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 

Clausewitzian concept of centers of gravity, and that Joint Pub 3-0 
should be revised accordingly. It also introduces two new 
conceptual terms, "critical capabilities" and "critical requirements". 
These latter terms bridge the gap and explain the relationship 
between centers of gravity and critical vulnerabilities, and provide 
Service and Joint planners a logical and useful aid in designing 
OPLANS to protect friendly sources of power while facilitating the 
defeat of the enemy's sources of strength. 

Building upon the traditional Clausewitzian concept of centers 
of gravity, Dr. Strange clarifies the concept and relationship 
between centers of gravity and critical vulnerabilities. He does so 
without corrupting the genuine good sense and wisdom found in 
each of the current Joint and Service manuals regarding defeating 
the enemy at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of war. 
His clear and compelling discussion of this critical concept merits 
serious consideration by those responsible for clarity of thought as 
well as unity of effort in the development and execution of "war" 
plans. 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



Marine Corps University 



Second Edition Foreword 



Since its initial printing over a year ago, Dr. Strange's 
monograph on centers of gravity and critical vulnerabilities has 
stimulated the study and discussion of this important subject 
throughout the Marine Corps. Dr. Strange's analytical construct 
has been incorporated into the Marine Air-Ground Task Force 
Staff Training Program course provided to Marine Expeditionary 
Force headquarters staffs, and into draft Marine Corps doctrine. 
This fall it is being introduced into the curriculum of the 
Navy-Marine Corps Intelligence School. A significant portion of 
the work's recent demand also comes from professional military 
education activities outside the Marine Corps. 

Readers at the tactical and operational levels will recognize the 
monograph's value as they identify an adversary's centers of 
gravity and critical vulnerabilities while seeking to apply their 
friendly centers of gravity against those vulnerabilities. The 
analytical construct supports and is supported by Marine Corps 
Doctrinal Publication 1, War fighting, which captures how Marines 
think about conducting war. 

The monograph also offers a construct for analyzing decision 
making at the highest levels of national strategy. The ability to 
assess a strategic environment and understand why some decisions 
were correct while others led to disaster is a useful tool for the 
study of history. Through this study, winning and losing patterns 
emerge, patterns that today's decision makers can use to the benefit 
of their country and its security. 



R. R. Blackman, Jr. 

Brigadier General, U. S. Marine Corps 

President, Marine Corps University 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



Table of Contents 



Chapter Page 

Clarification, Minor Changes and viii 

Elaboration to the First Edition 

1 . The Problem and The Solution - 1 
A Brief Summary Introduction 

2. What Did Clausewitz mean by 5 
"Center(s) of Gravity"? 

3. The Way We Were - Butch Cassidy 27 
and the Center of Gravity: Confusion 

and Chaos, Not Understanding 

4. The Fix: The CG-CC-CR-CV Concept 43 

5. Did You Know that Saddam Hussein and the 93 
Republican Guard were NOT Centers of Gravity? 

The (Still) Confused and Contradictory 

State of Current Doctrine, and How It Could 
Be Revised 

6. Parting Shots & Recommendations 143 

Appendix. "Critical Capabilities" and 149 

"Critical Requirements" in Relation to 
Other "Capabilities" and "Requirements" 
Terms Used in the DOD Community 



Perspectives on Warfighting vii 



Marine Corps University 



Second Edition Preface 



Clarification, Minor Changes 
and Elaboration to the First Edition 

(#1) 
Think: 




NOUN 
Center of Gravity 

VERB 
Critical Capability 

NOUN (and verb) 1 
Critical Requirement 

NOUN (and verb) 2 
Critical Vulnerability 



1 See immediately below (#2) and (#3). 

2 See immediately below (#2) and (#3). 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 

(#2) 

I propose the following 

Minor Modifications of Definitions 

for your consideration: 
(Definitions on pages 43 and 64 ONLY have been changed accordingly.) 

Centers of Gravity: 

Primary sources of moral or physical strength, power and 
resistance. (Minor change) 

Critical Capabilities: 

Primary abilities which merits a Center of Gravity to be 
identified as such in the context of a given scenario, 
situation or mission. (Major minor change) (See 
discussion below.) 

Critical Requirements: 

Essential conditions, resources and means for a critical 
capability to be fully operative. (No change) 

Critical Vulnerabilities: 

Critical requirements or components thereof which are 
deficient, or vulnerable to neutralization, interdiction or 
attack (moral/physical harm) in a manner achieving 
decisive results - the smaller the resources and effort 
applied and the smaller the risk and cost, the better. 
(Minor change) (See footnote 3, page 43.) 

Discussion of Critical Capabilities (See also #3 below): 

An enemy center of gravity (CG) has the moral or physical 
ability to prevent friendly mission accomplishment. The critical 
abilities or capabilities which we ascribe to a given CG answer the 
question: "Why are we afraid of or concerned about that particular 
entity?" Every answer to this question is contextual - that is, it is 
based on the context of a particular situation or mission. 
Therefore, I would suggest that we should step beyond the generic 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



Marine Corps University 

"look, move, shoot and communicate" capabilities which are 
common to most military forces/units, and ask the $64,000- 
question: "Precisely what is it that a particular enemy force (moral 
or physical) can do to us to prevent us from accomplishing our 
mission in this particular situation/context? What particular 
capabilities are we especially concerned about?" 

I thought about this recently while preparing for a class on 
"Centers of Gravity, Critical Vulnerabilities and the 
British-Canadian Raid on Dieppe in August 1942" conducted this 
month at the USMC Command and Control Systems School. I 
believe that we should zero in on those particularly 
'attention-grabbing' or 'show-stopping' critical capabilities which, if 
allowed to be fully (or even partially) functional, will "eat the 
lunch" or "tear the heart out" of relevant friendly centers of gravity. 
I also suggest that we should describe said critical capabilities in 
language more specific than "move, shoot and communicate". 

The table on the next page depicts the main critical capability 
and some supporting critical requirements for one of the German 
(tactical) centers of gravity capable of preventing the British and 
Canadians from achieving mission success in their raid on Dieppe 
on 19 August 1942. Your first thought about "Generate & Direct 
Murderous Enfilade Fire on the Main Beach" might be: 'That is 
nothing more than a mission statement for those defenders - that is 
their job, that is why they were put there.' BINGO! That is 
precisely why they were put there and why their commander(s) 
gave them the resources (bunkers, guns, etc.) to ensure that they 
would be able (have the capability) to do just that. (If it is just that 
easy to conceptualize and articulate an attention-grabbing, 
show-stopping critical capability, why make it more difficult?) 



For those of you interested in a complete set of notes for my 
lecture on Dieppe, I can be reached at www.com write me a letter or 
give me a call at: Marine Corps War College; 2076 South Street; 
MCCDC; Quantico, VA 22134-5067 (phone DSN 278-4082; 
commercial 703-784-4082). 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



DIEPPE 

19 August 1942 

One of the German (Tactical) Centers of Gravity 

and its "attention-grabbing" or "show-stopping" 

Critical Capability 



CENTER of 


CRITICAL 


CRITICAL 


GRAVITY 


CAPABILITY 


REQUIREMENTS 


Dieppe 


Generate & Direct 


Sufficient Advance 


Headlands 


Murderous 


Warning. 


Defenders 


Enfilade Fire 


Assault troops stalled in 


manning 


on the Main Beach. 


Beach Kill Zones by 


strong 


KILL, DISRUPT 


Wire Obstacles. 


defenses 


& DELAY the 


Observable fields of fire. 




main Assault Forces. 


Preregistered fields of 
fire. 




SHOOT 


Plenty of ammunition. 






Survive & Stay focused. 






Lack of effective inter- 






ference by enemy 






supporting forces: 






7Air. 






>/ Naval Gun Fire. 






J Parachute Forces. 






V Tanks Landed on the 






Main Beach. 






Protected fire positions. 






Steady troops. 






>/ No Threats to their 






Rear from Flank 






Assault Forces. 


The best book on the Dieppe raid remains Dieppe - The Shame and the 



Glory by Terence Robertson. 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



Marine Corps University 

(#3) 

Based on (#2) 

I would recommend making a sharper distinction 

between Critical Capabilities 

and Critical Requirements 

within the context of 

specific situations and missions. 

If we were to focus on just those 'attention-grabbing' or 
'show-stopping' critical capabilities as discussed in (#2), then what 
about those generic capabilities under the broad umbrella of "see, 
move, shoot and communicate" which do not make the cut? My 
suggestion is that the latter be listed instead under the critical 
requirements column. For example, regarding the table on the 
previous page, you will note that just below the dotted line under 
CRs is listed "Survive and Stay Focused". That is a condition for 
the CG to remain effective, for it to be able to perform effectively 
its "attention-grabbing," "show-stopping" critical capability of 
raking the main assault beach with murderous enfilade fire. 

Another example relates to a Canadian center of gravity for the 
Dieppe raid - the assault battalions of the 2nd Canadian Infantry 
Division. The 2nd Division did not possess the organic 
intelligence assets and staff capable of "looking" across the English 
Channel and collecting and interpreting the data available on the 
German garrison and defences. That intelligence mission was 
accomplished at a higher echelon of command, i.e., it was done for 
them (more or less) by somebody else. Nevertheless, adequate 
intelligence and the professional interpretation thereof (by 
whomever) was a critical requirement for mission accomplishment. 
Also, the 2nd Division could not transport itself across the English 
Channel; some other military organization/command provided the 
necessary assault ships and landing craft. "Look" and "move" 
(across the Channel) are verbs, but they did not reflect capabilities 
inherent within the 2nd Division. 

xii Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 

But even if a reinforced, super division did have the assets to 
do those things by itself, do "look" and "move" (across the 
Channel) qualify as "attention-grabbing," "show-stopping," 
"eat-your-lunch" and "rip-your-heart-out" critical capabilities in the 
context of the Dieppe raid and mission - in the eyes of the German 
commander at Dieppe? If you believe they do (or did), then fine; 
get on with the CG-CC-CR-CV analysis. But if you believe they 
do (or did) not so qualify, those verbs still have to be performed 
effectively; in which case we can move them right on over into the 
CR column. 

Finally, "look/examine" and "move" in this context are 
"preconditions" which must pertain before the 2nd Division's 
assault battalions (which they called regiments) can bring their 
own "attention-grabbing" critical capability into play. And that 
critical capability was "overwhelm enemy coastal defenders by 
the application of superior combat power via small arms fire and 
cold steel (the knife) in hand-to-hand combat" - by direct assault 
and maneuver from the sea where possible and necessary, and by 
expeditious maneuver from landing beaches to inland defenses and 
forces where necessary. 



And that leads to (#4). 



» » » » » » » » » 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



Marine Corps University 



(#4) 

Do not overlook "Conditions" 
as candidates for Critical Requirements. 

The two infantry battalions (regiments) assaulting the main 
beach at Dieppe at 0520 relied heavily on supporting units also 
accomplishing their missions. Successful mission accomplishment 
by some minimum combination of these other units was 
considered to be a condition critical to the ability of the two 
battalions assaulting the main beach (just 30 minutes after the flank 
landings a mile or so distant!) to accomplish their mission: 



CENTER OF 
GRAVITY 

Two Battalions 
Assaulting the 
Main Dieppe 
Beach 



CRITICAL 
CAPABILITY 

Overwhelm enemy 
defenders by 
superior combat 
power via small 
arms fire and cold 
steel in hand-to- 
hand combat. 



CONDITIONS CONSIDERED TO BE 
CRITICAL REQUIREMENTS 

Mission accomplishment of Bn landing at 
Blue Beach (to the east) 

Mission accomplishment of Bn landing at 
Green Beach (to the west) 

Mission accomplishment of two Squadrons 
of Hurricane Close Support aircraft 
strafing the Dieppe Sea Front defenses. 

Ability of supporting Destroyers to keep 
down fire from the East and West 
Headlands defenses (overlooking the 
main beach) until flanking assault Bns 
overrun them from the rear. 

Ability of combat engineers to clear lanes 
through the barbed wire obstacles. 

Timely landing of supporting Tanks. 

Ability of those tanks to get off the beach. 



A lot of disparate things - all important for mission 
accomplishment - fall under the category of "conditions" or 
"preconditions". List under the CR column everything you can 
think of. The longer the list, the greater the number of 
potential candidates for critical vulnerabilities. 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 

(#5) 

Centers of Gravity 

offer physical and moral resistance. 

Therefore, 

Harvey is the gang's 

center of gravity. 

(See below, Chapter 3) 

The concept of centers of gravity is greatly simplified when 
one considers for that distinction only candidates/entities that offer 
moral or physical resistance to a given course of action. Therefore, 
both the Army armor officer (for the wrong reason) and the SAMS 
graduate correctly identified Harvey as the gang's center of gravity. 
Harvey is neither a characteristic nor a capability; nor is he a 
locality. Harvey is a man - a moral and a physical force. True, 
Harvey possesses physical characteristics which give him an 
impressive capability (to knock somebody's teeth in - or out); and 
it is this capability which underlies his moral position within the 
gang. The reference to Clausewitz by the SAMS graduate is a bit 
imprecise in that Clausewitz clearly allowed for multiple centers of 
gravity and advised that they should be traced back to a single 
center of gravity IF POSSIBLE. (See below, Chapter 2, page 1 1 .) 

The Army infantry officer is clearly wrong. Harvey's 
"testicles" is a critical vulnerability if there ever was one. The 
definition given by that officer for a center of gravity applies 
instead to critical requirements and critical vulnerabilities. The Air 
Force officer initially appeared to realize that Harvey was the 
gang's CG, but then he jumped the rails when he advised how to 
attack Harvey's "four centers of gravity" - which are instead some 
of Harvey's critical requirements (eyes, ears, knees and an in-tact 
skull housing his brain). The Marine officer (as per FMFM 1 at 
that time) simply ignored the concept of center of gravity and 
spoke instead of seeking a critical vulnerability. The Navy 
officer's remarks were not directly germane to the CG-CV concept. 



Perspectives on Warfighting xv 



Marine Corps University 

(#6) 
11 Strong-willed people/ 1 

The "will of the people" can be strong, weak, or in between. 
The "will of the people" can therefore be either a CG or a CV, or 
neither. Even if popular will is not exceptionally strong, it may be 
strong enough - in which case it can be viewed as a critical 
requirement. Consider, for example, the statement: "As long as 
popular support for our course of action remains at the 50% level, 
we can stay the course; but if it falls much below that level we are 
in deep trouble." The speaker is thinking of the 50% level as a 
minimum critical requirement, not as a source of great strength. 

(#7) 
It is what the Capital contains. 

When Clausewitz wrote "Capital" (see below, Chapter 2, page 
7), he was referring to "the center of administration" and also the 
hub of a nation's "social, professional and political activity." If the 
government (the leaders and bureaucrats) and the social and 
professional elites are able to flee the capital (before an enemy 
captures it) and function effectively elsewhere, then it is they - not 
the city - which is the true center of gravity. The phrase "function 
effectively elsewhere" is the key; a judgment reserved for the 
people of that country, not the enemy. Why hang one's hat on 
capturing the enemy's capital, if by that point it is likely to have 
lost all meaningful value and significance in anyone's eyes other 
than those of the captor? Just a thought. 



px Joe Strange 

[Professor of Strategic Studies 

\N^arine Corps War College 

Marine Corps University 

September 1997 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



Chapter 1 



The Problem and The Solution 
A Brief Summary Introduction 



The Problem quite simply is the considerable confusion 
regarding concepts and definitions of "centers of gravity" (CGs) 
and "critical vulnerabilities" (CVs) which exists in the current 
array of Joint and Service doctrinal manuals/publications. This is a 
self-inflicted wound on the DOD community writ large. To begin 
with, the current Joint/Service definition is a remarkably curious 
and confusing oddity. By stipulating that centers of gravity are not 
moral or physical forces themselves, but only the "characteristics, 
capabilities, or locations" which contribute to their effectiveness, 1 
the definition is at odds with both Clausewitz and the commonly 
understood meaning of the term. This means that Saddam 
Hussein and the Republican Guard; Ho Chi Minh and the North 
Vietnamese Regular Army; Emperor Hirohito, Admiral Isoroku 
Yamamoto, and the Imperial Japanese Navy; and General Robert 
E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia were not moral and 
physical centers of gravity. This would be news to Generals 
Norman Schwarzkopf, Colin Powell, William Westmoreland, 
Douglas Mac Arthur, and Ulysses S. Grant, and to the authors of a 
few hundred classics on modern military history. This alone is 
reason enough to modify the current Joint/Service definition. 

This confusion is further exacerbated by FMFM 1 
Warfighting . which has turned the Clausewitzian definition of 

1 Joint Pub 3-0, Doctrine for Joint Operations . 1 February 1995, p 111-20; and Joint Pub 1-02, 
Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms . 23 March 1994, p 63. 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



Marine Corps University 

centers of gravity inside-out: "Applying the term to modern 
warfare, we must make it clear that by the enemy's center of 
gravity we do not mean a source of strength, but rather a critical 
vulnerability." l So, CGs are not sources of strength but are 
instead critical weaknesses? FMFM 1 is not alone. Naval 
Doctrine Publication 1 - Naval Warfare explains that while a center 
of gravity is a source of strength it is "not necessarily strong or a 
strength in itself." It states for example that "a lengthy resupply 
line supporting forces engaged at a distance from the home front 
could be an enemy's center of gravity." 2 (Far more often than not 
in military history long supply lines have been major weaknesses 
contributing to failure and defeat.) So, CGs are sources of strength 
which may also be critical weaknesses? 

These are but three examples of the confusion on this 
fundamentally important concept which the array of current Joint 
and Service doctrine has generated - a confusion which cannot 
help but inhibit precision of thought and clarity of communication 
at all levels of war throughout the DOD community. 

The Solution is simple. We should as a minimum return 
to the Clausewitzian meaning of centers of gravity as moral and 
physical sources of strength, while simultaneously retaining the 
concept of "critical vulnerabilities" as critical weaknesses as 
explained in USMC FMFM 1, Warfighting . without of course the 
infamous footnote 28. 3 Beyond that, we should also incorporate 
into Joint/Service doctrine two new conceptual terms - "critical 
capabilities" (CCs) and "critical requirements" (CRs) - which 
bridge the gap and explain the relationship between centers of 
gravity and critical vulnerabilities. Chapter 4 offers the following 
definitions and fully explains the CG-CC-CR-CV concept: 



1 FMFM 1 Warfighting (Washington DC: Dept of the Navy, HQUSMC, 6 March 1989), 
footnote 28, p 85 (referring to page 36 in the text). 

2 Naval Doctrine Publication 1 - Naval Warfare . 28 March 1994, p 72. 

1 FMFM 1 Warfighting (Washington, DC: Dept of the Navy, HQUSMC, 6 March 1989) - 
footnote 28 on p 85 refers to pages 35-36 in the text. (See below chapter 3 page 37, and chapter 5 
pages 130 and 136.) 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



Centers of Gravity: 

Primary sources of moral or physical strength, power and 
resistance. 

Critical Capabilities: 

Primary abilities which merits a Center of Gravity to be 
identified as such in the context of a given scenario, 
situation or mission. 

Critical Requirements: 

Essential conditions, resources and means for a critical 
capability to be fully operative. 

Critical Vulnerabilities: 

Critical requirements or components thereof which are 
deficient, or vulnerable to neutralization, interdiction or 
attack (moral/physical harm) in a manner achieving 
decisive results - the smaller the resources and effort 
applied and the smaller the risk and cost, the better. 



When we reinvent the definition of centers of gravity, what 
are we to do with the thousand or so books on military history 
written during the 20th Century - books which fill our military 
libraries and support a great deal of our Professional Military 
Education curricula? We can't rewrite even one single page 
dealing with strategy, operations and centers of gravity so as to 
make it harmonize with the latest doctrinal notion. What we can 
do, however, is build on the traditional concept of centers of 
gravity, instead of destroying it. The CG-CC-CR-CV concept 
does just that. Chapter 5 suggests how our current Joint/Service 
manuals/publications could be revised accordingly. 

Best of all, the CG-CC-CR-CV concept does not challenge any 
existing Joint or Service warfighting philosophy, whether it be 
'maneuver warfare' or anything else. It requires only a few simple 
but important changes in vocabulary and definitions. And as we 
continue to formulate strategy and conduct operations consistent 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



Marine Corps University 

with the sound warfighting advice found in all of the current Joint 
and Service doctrine manuals and publications, when it comes to 
centers of gravity and critical vulnerabilities it asks only that all of 
us speak the same language regardless of Service and 
regardless of level of war. 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



Chapter 2 



What Did Clausewitz mean by 
"Center(s) of Gravity"? 



Popularity and Validity of Clausewitz' On War 

Despite premature 1 epitaphs by Martin Van Creveld, John 
Keegan and others, the popularity and perceived relevance of On 
War and the Clausewitzian theory of war remains huge within the 
American DOD/National Security community - among academics 
and practitioners alike. The Clausewitzian theory of the dynamics 
of war remains valid in spite of dizzying technological and 
political changes of the late 20th Century. While the "character" or 
"form" of war has changed from age to age and war to war, the 
"nature" of war remains immutable. On War is about the nature of 
war; it is about timeless concepts such as the "political purpose of 
war," "opposing dynamic wills," "the fog and friction of war," and 
"centers of gravity". 

On the following page we will begin our analysis of the 
Clausewitzian concept of centers of gravity by reviewing what 
Clausewitz said in his own words. 



» » » » » » » » » 



and mistaken 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



Marine Corps University 




Passages on 

Strategic "Centers of Gravity" 

from On War l 



The Armed Forces, the Country, and Will 

"Later ... we shall investigate in greater detail what 
is meant by disarming a country. But we should at 
once distinguish between three things, three broad 
objectives, which between them cover everything: the 
armed forces, the country, and the enemy's will. 

"The fighting forces must be destroyed: that is they 
must be put in such a condition that they can no longer 
carry on the fight. ... 

"The country must be occupied; otherwise the 
enemy could raise fresh military forces. [In another 
passage, Clausewitz defined 'Country' as a country's 
'physical features and population' - 'the source of all 
armed forces proper'. See On War , p 79.] 

"Yet both these things may be done and the war, 
that is the animosity and the reciprocal effects of 
hostile elements, cannot be considered to have ended 
so long as the enemy's will has not been broken: in 
other words, so long as the enemy government and its 
allies have not been driven to ask for peace, or the 
population made to submit." 2 



1 Carl von Clausewitz, On War (Howard-Paret paper edition, Princeton Univ. Press, 1976). 
Hereinafter cited as On War . 

2 On War , p 90. (Emphasis in the original.) 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



Moral Factors and Will 

"...[T]he moral elements are the most important in 
war. They constitute the spirit that permeates war as a 
whole, and at an early stage they establish a close 
affinity with the will that moves and leads the whole 
mass of force, practically merging with it, since the 
will is itself a moral quality.... 

"The spirit and other moral qualities of an army, a 
general or a government, the temper of the population 
of the theater of war, the moral effects of victory or 
defeat - all these vary greatly.... 

"History provides the strongest proof of the 
importance of moral factors and their often incredible 
effect: ..." * 



The Army, the Capital, and Allies 

"Basing our comments on general experience, the 
acts we consider most important for the defeat of the 
enemy are the following: 

1 . Destruction of his army, if it is at all significant. 
[See also On War , p 624.] 

2. Seizure of his capital, if it is not only the center 
of administration but also that of social, professional, 
and political activity. 

3. Delivery of an effective blow against his 
principal ally if that ally is more powerful than he." 2 



On War , pp 184-185. 
On War , p 596. 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



Marine Corps University 



"Mass" as a Center of Gravity 

In chapter twenty-seven of Book six in On War . Clausewitz 
discussed the concept of "a center of gravity" in a section dealing 
with "general reasons for dividing one's forces" while on the 
defensive. 1 Clausewitz reminded his readers that in principle as 
much of the national army as possible should be concentrated for 
the purpose of fighting and winning a single decisive battle. But 
he quickly added that the practical application of this principle 
requires 'ideal' circumstances which do not often exist. 

"Only in the case of small and compact states is 
such a concentration of force possible and probable 
that its defeat will decide everything. If the area 
involved is very large and the frontier long, or if one is 
surrounded on all sides by a powerful alliance of 
enemies, such a concentration is a practicable 
impossibility. A division of forces then becomes 
inevitable, and with it, several theaters of operation." 

The importance of a military victory in any particular 
theater of operations in such a scenario, Clausewitz continued, will 
depend on the "scale" of that victory, which depends in large part 
on the size of the defeated force and the degree of its defeat (i.e., 
pushed back and retreating in good order, or severely mauled with 
remnants being routed by an aggressive pursuit). 

"For this reason, the blow from which the broadest and 
most favorable repercussions can be expected will be 
aimed against that area where the greatest 
concentration of enemy troops can be found; the larger 
the force with which the blow is struck, the surer its 
effect will be. This rather obvious sequence leads us to 
an analogy that will illustrate it more clearly - that is, 
the nature and effect of a center of gravity. 

1 On War , pp 485-486. "The last book [Book Eight 'War Plans,' pp 577-637] will describe how 
this idea of a center of gravity in the enemy's force operates throughout the plan of war. In effect, 
that is where the matter properly belongs; we have merely drawn on it here in order not to leave a 
gap in the present argument" ... regarding "reasons for dividing one's forces" while on the defensive 
(P486). 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



"A center of gravity is always found where the mass 
is concentrated most densely. It presents the most 
effective target for a blow; furthermore, the heaviest 
blow is that struck by the center of gravity. The same 
holds true in war. The fighting forces of each 
belligerent - whether a single state or an alliance of 
states - have a certain unity and therefore some 
cohesion. Where there is cohesion, the analogy of the 
center of gravity can be applied. Thus these [Allied] 
forces will possess certain centers of gravity, which, by 
their movement and direction, govern the rest [of the 
Allied forces not part of these concentrations]; and 
those centers of gravity will be found wherever the 
forces are most concentrated.... 

"It is therefore a major act of strategic judgment to 
distinguish these centers of gravity in the enemy's 
forces and to identify their spheres of effectiveness. 
One will constantly be called upon to estimate the 
effect that an advance or a retreat by part of the forces 
on either side will have upon the rest." l 



A Word of Caution Regarding I 
"Mass" 
Since Clausewitz 1 Day 



nififi : i :: ffl : r ::: rt^ 




Thirty years after the death of Clausewitz, during the 
American Civil War, Union and Confederate divisions were being 
moved great distances by railroad relatively quickly - one of the 
more notable examples being the movement of Longstreet's corps 
in September 1863 from Virginia almost directly into the battle of 
Chickamauga in northern Georgia. When General Grant became 
general in chief of all Union armies early in 1864, from a strategic 
perspective he could have viewed the two principal 'masses' of 

' On War , pp 485-486. Emphasis added regarding (§). 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



Marine Corps University 

Confederate troops in the armies of Northern Virginia and 
Tennessee as two separate entities, or as a single strategic entity. 
Likewise, Allied strategists early in 1944 had the option of viewing 
the two principal 'masses' of German divisions concentrated in 
Russia and in France as two separate entities, or as a single 
strategic entity. As we have progressed through the 20th Century, 
technological advancements enhancing strategic mobility 
capabilities have blurred the distinction between separate "masses" 
of national armies seemingly separated by great distances. 

Since Clausewitz' day, the central issue regarding strategic 
centers of gravity has not been whether units are concentrated into 
recognizable masses, but whether widely dispersed units have the 
ability to mass rapidly. In the last fifty years, the question has 
further matured to whether such units have the ability to 
simultaneously synchronize (i.e., mass) the effects of their combat 
power against common objectives for a common goal, even if they 
are not physically "massed" together. When it comes to 
considering whether all or only a 'massed' portion of an enemy 
national army is a strategic center of gravity, it is prudent to focus 
on the strategic capability of that army to shift forces within and 
among separate theaters of war. When it comes to the 
identification of strategic centers of gravity, as long as we 
understand that the concept of 'mass' may involve forces separated 
by relatively great distances, we are good to go. 

Looking ahead to the CG-CC-CR-CV concept in 
chapter 4 . In a conventional conflict (such as World War II, 
Korea, and the Persian Gulf War) the potential effectiveness of the 
enemy's national strategic mobility assets is an important 
consideration influencing a friendly commander's decision whether 
to identify all or only a part of an enemy national army as a 
strategic center of gravity. That decision might hinge on whether 
the enemy army/nation possessed a particular " critical capability ." 
that is, the ability of that army /nation to mass sufficient forces at 
key locations and/or to achieve synchronization of fire and 
maneuver against common objectives. That capability/ability 
would obviously depend on whether the enemy possessed a 



10 Perspectives on War fighting 



Centers of Gravity 

requisite amount of strategic mobility assets. The latter is called a 
" critical requirement " (CR). One or more "critical requirements" 
are necessary for the realization of a "critical capability" (CC). 
One or more "critical capabilities" are necessary for a center of 
gravity (CG ) to function as a center of gravity. 



With the above "check in the box," 

LET US RETURN TO CLAUSEWITZ AND ON WAR . 



1. Identify Centers of Gravity. 

2. If Possible (Ideally), Trace Them Back to a 
Single One - The Hub of all Power and Movement. 

"The first task, then, in planning for a war is to 
identify the enemy's centers 1 of gravity, and if possible 
trace them back to a single one." 2 

"The first principle is that the ultimate substance of 
enemy strength must be traced back to the fewest 
possible sources, and ideally to one alone. The attack 
on these sources must be compressed into the fewest 
possible actions - again ideally, into one." 3 

"One must keep the dominant characteristics of 
both belligerents in mind. Out of these characteristics 
a certain center of gravity develops, the hub of all 
power and movement, on which everything depends. 
That is the point against which all our energies should 
be directed." 4 

"Once a major victory is achieved there must be no 
talk of rest, of a breathing space, of reviewing the 

1 Emphasis added. 

2 On War , p 619. 
1 On War , p 617. 

4 (Emphasis added.) On War , pp 595-596. 



Perspectives on Warfighting 1 1 



Marine Corps University 



position or consolidating and so forth, but only of the 
pursuit, going after the enemy again if necessary, 
seizing his capital, attacking his reserves and anything 
else that might give his country aid and comfort." ] 




Clausewitz viewed 

"Centers of Gravity" 

As Sources of 

Strength, Power & Resistance 




From the above passages, it is clear that Clausewitz viewed 
centers of gravity as sources of moral and physical strength, power 
and resistance. The first-mentioned and most obvious center of 
gravity was the (enemy) army, assuming that it was powerful 
enough to be a factor in the strategic and operational equations. 
Destroying or neutralizing the enemy's army was a straightforward 
means to break an enemy's will to fight in most of the Napoleonic 
wars. Armed forces included enemy naval forces when applicable. 
The Royal Navy was a powerful British center of gravity. The 
"country" was a source of manpower and physical support for the 
armed forces - which might have to be disrupted in the pursuit 
phase following a major victory over an enemy army so as to 
destroy possibilities for enemy reinforcement and recuperation. 
The capital was always seen as a vital part of the "country". (More 
on the "capital" below.) Destruction or defeat of an enemy army, 
and occupation of his capital and/or major portions of his country 
was viewed as a Napoleonic formula to defeat the will of the 
principal enemy political and military leaders and the peoples and 
personnel which they ruled and commanded. "Will" - whether of a 
leader, military commander, or a population (or large segment 
thereof) - was viewed as a moral center of gravity. Political and 
military leaders were a source of moral strength by virtue of 
personal determination and/or by inspiring loyalty and confidence. 

1 On War , p 625. 



12 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



The Meaning of 
"HUB" 



The Hub of all Power and Movement 

Webster defines "hub" as: "The center portion of a wheel, 
fan, or propeller. A center of interest or activity." 1 "A chief center 
of activity : focal point." 2 These meanings are consistent with 
Clausewitz 1 use of that word in connection with centers of 
gravity. The field army was the "hub" of a figurative great wheel 
comprising the totality of national military power which included 
its garrisons and depots, reserves, units still training or completing 
mobilization, and military classes (of teenagers) not yet called to 
duty. When mobilized and on the move, the field army was the 
chief center and focal point of national military power, activity and 
movement. Likewise, the capital - the chief center and focal point 
of political activity and power - was the "hub" of a great wheel 
comprising the totality of all "State" political power, the King and 
all his agents of power from bureaucrats to regional tax collectors. 
If the capital was also the main center, or hub, of national social, 
professional, and political activity, so much the better. Even when 
the Head of State accompanied the commander of his army into the 
field, the administrative bureaucracy remained in the capital. And 
after the battle(s) it was the capital to which the Head of State 
would return, in glory or in flight. 



1 w rtKte rtll . 

2 Webster's Third International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged. Springfield, 
MA, 1971. 



Perspectives on Warfighting 13 



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More Than One 
| "Hub" or "Center of Gravity" 



The following is one of the most frequently quoted/cited 
passages from On War : 

"One must keep the dominant characteristics of both 
belligerents in mind. Out of these characteristics a 
certain center of gravity develops, the hub 1 of all 
power and movement, on which everything depends. 
That is the point against which all our energies should 
be directed." 2 (repeated from page 1 1 above) 

Clausewitz qualified these words, however, in two other carefully 
worded sentences (also repeated from page 1 1 above): 

"The first principle is that the ultimate substance 
of enemy strength must be traced back to the fewest 
possible sources, and ideally to one alone." 3 

"The first task ... in planning for a war is to identify 
the enemy's centers of gravity, and if possible trace 
them back to a single one." 4 

During the Napoleonic era, a nation's field army and capital 
both functioned as hubs of "State" military and political power. 
Mao's observation that "Political power comes from the barrel of a 
gun" was just as valid in Clausewitz' day. In some countries, a 
strong army was just as essential to the maintenance of political 
power as were loyal bureaucrats and tax collectors - the army and 

1 Hub: The Center portion of a wheel, fan, or propeller. A center of interest or activity. 
[ Webster's II .] 

2 (Emphasis added.) On War , pp 595-596. 

3 On War , p 617. (Emphasis added.) 

4 On War , p 619. (Emphasis added.) 



14 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 

the capital both being important psychological and physical 
symbols of "State" power. There was no assurance then (nor is 
there today) that a single "certain" center of gravity would emerge 
at each level of war. In conflicts involving multiple "hubs" of 
political and military power and movement, the emergence of a 
single CG at a given level of war has been, is, and always will be 
conflict and scenario dependent . (Note also the several "s's" in the 
discussion on "'Mass' as a Center of Gravity" above on page 9.) 



MULTIPLE CENTERS OF GRAVITY 1 
MAY EXIST AT ANY LEVEL OF WAR 



: 



The Strategic Level 

The ability of a state to resist and/or the refusal of a 
state to submit is hereinafter referred to as "lET. Let us consider 
the case of country D (for Defender), in which "D G3" is supported 
at the national-strategic level of war by the following: 

strong army; 

popular, strong-willed ruler; 

strong, functioning apparatus of state power 

(capital bureaucracy to regional tax collectors); 
population determined to resist the invader; 
"country" rich in mineral (gold/silver) resources; 
"country" rich in agricultural resources; 
"country" rich in manufacturing capacity 

(guns, cannons, military supplies, etc.); 
national treasury with a huge surplus of funds; 
strong ally. 

We have listed nine sources of strength, power and resistance of 
varying relative importance. 



Perspectives on War fighting 15 



Marine Corps University 

According to Clausewitz, we are supposed to trace "the 
ultimate substance of enemy strength ... back to the fewest possible 
sources, and ideally to one alone"; if possible, back to that single 
"certain center of gravity," the "hub of all power and movement, on 
which everything depends" which is "the point against which all 
our energies should be directed." So, how many of the above nine 
are essential? Which single one is the most important? The 
strong-willed ruler? But what if he could be easily replaced and 
his replacement readily accepted by the population? The army, or 
perhaps the strong ally? But what if the people and their leaders 
were determined to resist even without their army or ally? The 
determination of the population to resist? But would the 
population maintain their determination without the support of at 
least one other CG (e.g., someone to lead them)? If none of the 
nine CGs can stand alone/function by itself, how do we determine 
which of them is "the" most important? 



Consider the following two hypothetical situations: 

"D IE" relies mainly on one CG during the initial phase of a 
conflict, but if that CG is neutralized or destroyed, "D" 
knows that it can shift to a different strategy using a 
different CG to support "D KT. 



♦ "D IE" relies on three CGs during the initial phase of a 
conflict. But when two of them are neutralized or 
destroyed, "D" is able to adjust its strategy to sustain "D Kf 
on the sole remaining CG. 

In the second situation, was the sole surviving CG the most impor- 
tant one from the beginning? What if more than one of the three 
initial CGs could have been used alone by "D" to sustain "D E"? 



16 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 

The Operational Level 

A commander at the operational level of war may 
frequently have difficulty identifying 'the single' enemy center of 
gravity. If enemy forces in his area of responsibility are more or 
less concentrated into two separate highly-mobile masses, what 
then? Take the case of seven enemy divisions (four infantry, two 
mechanized, and one armored) "massed" on his left front, with 
three more enemy armored divisions loosely configured (i.e., 
deliberately "unmassed") to his right front. Is he confronted with 
just a single enemy center of gravity? The answer undoubtedly 
depends heavily on the emphasis which different commanders give 
to the mobility of 'separated' enemy forces and their ability to 
reinforce one another in time of need or otherwise act in concert. 
In many cases the answer could go either way, which is why 
operational commanders and their staffs should not get 'hung up' in 
a self-imposed requirement to identify 'the' most important entity 
as 'the single' enemy center of gravity. Another example at the 
operational level is the case of a strong enemy force being 
commanded by an extraordinarily capable, strong-willed, and 
inspirational general. In the case of the 15th and 21st Panzer and 
the 90th Light Divisions of the German Afrika Korps commanded 
in 1941 by (then) General Erwin Rommel (the 'Desert Fox'), were 
there not two German centers of gravity (Rommel and the force he 
commanded) instead of one? 



Identification of a "Single" Center of Gravity 
An Ideal, But Not Always Practical . Goal 



Clausewitz' advice notwithstanding, determination of one 
single, overarching enemy center of gravity (CG) at each level of 
war remains an ideal, but not always a practical goal. Frequently, 



Perspectives on Warfighting 1 7 



Marine Corps University 

multiple centers of gravity will exist at any given level of war. 
Nevertheless, Clausewitz' admonition to reduce especially those 
critically important enemy centers of gravity to the lowest number 
practicable (by the process of critical analysis) remains sound 
advice. The job then is to determine the interrelationship of 
multiple CGs within and among the levels of war, and to devise 
effective strategies and campaign plans against them. 



Strategic "Centers of Gravity" 

Clausewitz Provided Three 

Explanations/Illustrations 

in Historical Context 



Explanation/Illustration #1 ] 

Clausewitz: "For Alexander, Gustavus Adolphus, 
Charles XII, and Frederick the Great, the center of 
gravity was their army. If the army had been 
destroyed, they would all have gone down in history as 
failures. In countries subject to domestic strife, the 
center of gravity is generally the capital. 2 In small 
countries, that rely on large ones, it is usually the army 
of their protector. Among alliances, it lies in the 
community of interest, 3 and in popular uprisings it is 
the personalities of the leaders and public opinion. 4 It 
is against these that our energies should be directed. If 

1 On War , p 596. (All emphasis in these two paragraphs is added.) 

2 In this example, the capital is a CG (a source of strength), with the domestic strife, or the 
conditions producing it, being a "critical vulnerability". 

3 In this example, the common interests shared by allies are a CG; whereas any major conflicting 
interests existing simultaneously would be regarded as an existing or potential "critical 
vulnerability". The cohesion of the alliance would be a "critical requirement" (as discussed in 
chapter 4). 

4 Note that Clausewitz here listed two centers of gravity (leaders and public opinion). 



18 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 

the enemy is thrown off balance, he must not be given 
time to recover. Blow after blow must be aimed in the 
same direction: the victor, in other words, must strike 
with all his strength and not just against a fraction of 
the enemy's [strength]. 1 Not by taking things the 
easy way - using superior strength to filch some 
province, preferring the security of this minor conquest 
to great success - but by constantly seeking out the 
center of his power, by daring all to win all, 2 will 
one really defeat the enemy. 

"Still, no matter what the central feature 3 of the 
enemy's power may be - the point on which your 
efforts must converge - the defeat and destruction of 
his fighting force remains the best way to begin, and 
in every case will be a very significant feature of the 
campaign." 4 

Explanation/Illustration #2 
(Napoleon's "march on Moscow") 5 

Clausewitz: "At the start of the 1812 campaign, the 
strength with which the Russians opposed the French 
was even less adequate than Frederick's at the outset of 
the Seven Years War. But the Russians could expect 
to grow much stronger in the course of the campaign. 
At heart, all Europe was opposed to Bonaparte; he 
had stretched his resources to the very limit; in Spain 
he was fighting a war of attrition; and the vast expanse 

1 The word "[strength]" is implied by the grammatical structure of the sentence. 

A very clear passage from On War showing that Clausewitz viewed centers of gravity as 
sources (or even more definitively " centers ") of strength, power and resistance. (Extra emphasis 
on "center" is added.) 

3 Feature: The make-up, shape, proportions, form, or outward appearance. [ Webster's II .] 
Central: At, in, near, or being the center. [ Webster's II .] 

4 On War , p 596. (Emphasis added.) 

5 On War , pp 615-616. (All emphasis in these two paragraphs is added.) 



Perspectives on Warfighting 19 



Marine Corps University 

of Russia meant that an invader's strength could be 
worn down to the bone in the course of five hundred 
miles' retreat. Tremendous things were possible; not 
only was a massive counterstrike a certainty if the 
French offensive failed ( and how could it succeed if 
the Czar would not make peace nor his subjects rise 
against him? ) but the counterstroke could bring the 
French to utter ruin. The highest wisdom could never 
have devised a better strategy than the one the 
Russians followed unintentionally. 

" ... anyone with judgment in these matters will 
agree that the chain of great events that followed the 
march on Moscow was no mere succession of 
accidents. To be sure, had the Russians been able to 
put up any kind of defense of their frontiers, the star of 
France would probably have waned, and luck would 
probably have deserted her; but certainly not on that 
colossal and decisive scale. It was a vast success; and 
it cost the Russians a price in blood and perils that 
for any other country would have been higher still, and 
which most could not have paid at all." l 

In these two paragraphs, Clausewitz emphasized several 
sources of Russian moral and physical strength - i.e., centers of 
gravity: 2 

♦ the Czar 

♦ the Russian people 

♦ "all Europe was opposed to Bonaparte" 

(the "community of interest" discussed above on page 
18 [see On War , p 596]^ 

(even Napoleon's nominal allies, Austria and Prussia, 
were allies in name only) 

1 On War , pp 615-616. The clause (and how ... against him?) is included in the original. 

2 Looking ahead to chapter 4, the vastness of Russia is a "force effectiveness enhancer," and not a 
CG. The ability of the Russian people to "pay a price in blood and perils" that "most countries 
could not have paid at all" is a "critical capability" enabling the "people" to function as a CG. The 
"loyalty" of the people to the Czar is a "critical requirement" in support of that critical capability. 



20 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 

♦ latent Russian "reserve" strength, (absolute and relative 
compared to the diminished power of Napoleon's main 
force as it advanced ever deeper into Russia) 

In a separate related passage Clausewitz strongly implied that the 
Czar and the Russian people (who remained steadfastly loyal to 
him) were the two critical "certain" CGs (note: more than one) 
which doomed Napoleon to failure: 

"We maintain that the 1812 campaign failed because 
the Russian government kept its nerve and the people 
remained loyal and steadfast. The [French] campaign 
[therefore] could not succeed. Bonaparte may have 
been wrong to engage in it at all; at least the outcome 
shows that he miscalculated; ..." l 

meaning that as long as the Czar steadfastly refused to negotiate 
and the Russian people remained loyal to him, Napoleon's 
campaign as conceived and executed had no chance to succeed. 
Napoleon failed to incorporate into his strategy and campaign a 
political component designed to erode or destroy the Czar's popular 
support. 

Explanation/Illustration #3 
(A Post-Napoleon, Post-1815 Hypothetical Allied Attack 
Against France) 2 

Clausewitz: " The center of gravity of France lies in 
the armed forces and in Paris. 3 The allied aim must, 
therefore, be to defeat the army in one or more major 
battles, capture Paris, and drive the remnants of the 

1 On War , p 628. (Emphasis added.) 

2 On War , pp 633-634. (All emphasis in this paragraph is added.) 

3 Note: Clausewitz initially identified multiple centers of gravity as "the" center of gravity, but 
then confused the issue at the end of this paragraph by saying that "the center of gravity of 
France's power is where the two lines meet" (i.e., Paris and the region surrounding it). A possible 
explanation might be that the first reference was to a French CG in the specific hypothetical 
conflict/campaign, whereas the concluding reference was to the "inherent" and "historical" CG of 
French national power. 



Perspectives on Warfighting 21 



Marine Corps University 

enemy's troops across the Loire. The most vulnerable 
area of France is that between Paris and Brussels, 
where the frontier is only 150 miles from the capital. ... 
Both invasion lines, the one from the Netherlands and 
the other from the upper Rhine, are perfectly natural, 
short, unforced, and effective; and the center of gravity 
of France's power is where the two lines meet [i.e., 
Paris and the region surrounding it]." l 

Here again Clausewitz identified multiple centers of gravity (the 
army and Paris). Which was more important? It is difficult to 
choose one over the other. Paris is wide open without a protecting 
army, and the army could be made irrelevant if the Paris 
government conformed to the political demands of the Allied 
Coalition (i.e., if the political reasons for the war ceased to exist). 



"Overcoming the Resistance 
| Concentrated in his Center of Gravity" 



j^^;fgjg^g^ 



Consider also one other quotation from On War : 



Clausewitz: "...the defeat of the enemy consists in 
overcoming the resistance concentrated in his center 
of gravity...." 2 



meaning that a CG is capable of offering resistance - i.e., that it is 
a source of strength and power, not weakness. 



1 On War , pp 633-634. 

2 On War , p 596. (Emphasis added.) 



22 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



Colonel Harry G. Summers, Jr. 

Enemy Strategic Centers of Gravity 

in the Vietnam War 

a la Clausewitz 



Colonel Harry G. Summers' 1983 renowned critique of 
American strategy in the Vietnam War ( On Strategy: The Vietnam 
War in Context ) is a direct application of Clausewitz' On War . 1 In 
chapter eleven, Colonel Summers quoted the entire "For 
Alexander, Gustavus Adolphus, ..." passage reproduced above on 
page 18 ("Explanation/Illustration #1) to lay the foundation for his 
discussion of enemy centers of gravity. Colonel Summers then 
wrote: 

"As we saw in the previous chapter, we had adopted 
a strategy that focused on none of the possible North 
Vietnamese centers of gravity - their army, their 
capital, the army of their protector, the community of 
interest with their allies, or public opinion." 2 

The North Vietnamese Army could not be a center of gravity in 
the context of American strateg y, he continued, 

"because we had made the conscious decision not to 
invade North Vietnam to seek out and destroy its 
armed forces. For the same reason, it could not be 
Hanoi, the North Vietnamese capital. Our desire to 
limit the conflict and our fear of direct Soviet and 
Chinese involvement prevented us from destroying 'the 
army of their protector' (more accurately, to block the 
influx of massive amounts of Soviet and Chinese 



1 Colonel Harry G. Summers Jr., USA. On Strategy: The Vietnam War in Context (US Army 
War College, Strategic Studies Institute — Reproduced at Quantico Va, July 1983). For "direct 
application," see the Preface, Foreword, and text throughout. 

2 Mi., p80. (Emphasis added.) 



Perspectives on Warfighting 23 



Marine Corps University 

military assistance). The same fears prevented us 
(until the Nixon-Kissinger initiatives of the early 
1970s) from striking at the community of interest 
among North Vietnam, the Soviet Union, and China. 
Certainly 'the personalities of the leaders and public 
opinion' were never targets the United States could 
exploit. Instead by seeing the Viet Cong as a separate 
entity rather than as an instrument of North Vietnam, 
we chose a center of gravity which in fact did not 
exist...." * 

A few pages later, Colonel Summers' discussion of enemy 
centers of gravity is again pure Clausewitz: 

"General Dung's account of the North Vietnamese 
final offensive [in 1975] read like a Leavenworth 
practical exercise on offensive operations. His 
selection of the 'center of gravity' could have come 
directly from Clausewitz: 'The basic law of the war,' 
said General Dung, 'was to destroy the enemy's 
armed forces, including manpower and war 
material.... the main target of our forces was the 
(South Vietnamese) regular army." 2 

In Conclusion: 

First: 



Clausewitz Viewed Centers of Gravity to be: 

♦ Sources of moral and physical strength, 

and Not "Critical Vulnerabilities" 

♦ Significant Entities, Relatively Few in 

Number at Each Level of War 

" ■ ■■ ■ ■ ■ . . ■ ■ . •■ . . 



MJtiMttlJIJIJIJ^^ 



1 Had-, P 80. (...) (...) included in the original. 

2 Ibid ., p 84. (Emphasis added.) "material.... the" is in the original. Citing: Van Tien Dung, 
"Great Spring Victory," Foreign Broadcast Information Service . 7 July 1976, Volume II, p 52. 



24 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 

All centers of gravity are sources of strength, power and 
resistance. They are noj "critical vulnerabilities" which, being 
actual or potential sources of weakness, are quite the opposite of 
CGs. Nor (as is explained below in chapter 4, page 48) are CGs 
such things as command and control systems, transportation nodes, 
LOCs, and the like, because they are not capable of functions such 
as making decisions, directing units, leading people, making 
demands, raising expectations, or resisting enemy moral or 
physical forces. 

Centers of gravity are significant entities readily discernible 
at any level to skilled practitioners of war. A skilled practitioner is 
educated in the art and science of war, and knows his enemy 
(culture, society, personalities, motivations - in addition to orders 
of battle and the like). Given reasonable and reliable intelligence 
data, he/she should have little difficulty readily identifying enemy 
(and friendly) centers of gravity. Because centers of gravity are 
significant entities, they invariably will be relatively few in number 
at each level of war. 

Second: 



Recent and Current Service Doctrines 
Reflect an Array of 
Conflicting and Confusing Interpretations 
of Clausewitz 1 Concept of "Centers of Gravity" | 



:: 



All American Service doctrinal manuals/publications are 
influenced (more or less) by On War . FMFM 1 Warfighting . for 
example, is for the most part a brilliant distillation of On War and a 
powerful testament to the relevancy of Clausewitz to the modern- 
day Marine Corps, as well as to the entire DOD community. 
Unfortunately, as is shown in chapters 3 and 5, the collection of 



Perspectives on Warfighting 25 



Marine Corps University 

recent and current Service doctrine manuals/publications reflects a 
hugely divergent and confusing array of interpretations regarding 
the original Clausewitzian concept of center of gravity and its 
relationship to critical vulnerabilities. When not studied in a 
professional manner On War (like the Bible) is wide open to a 
kaleidoscope of individual interpretations generated and reinforced 
by the failure to read, understand, and interpret relevant passages 
of On War in context - i.e., sentences in the context of paragraphs, 
paragraphs ... pages, pages... chapters, chapters ... individual books 
(8 total), books in the context of the entire volume, and the entire 
volume in "the spirit of the age". The Joint and Service doctrine 
manuals/publications should be more uniformly based on a solid 
understanding of the Clausewitzian concept of centers of gravity. 
Doing so will greatly facilitate communication of ideas within the 
DOD community (and within individual services), without 
corrupting or harming in any way the genuine good sense and 
wisdom found in each of these doctrine manuals/publications 
regarding defeating the enemy at the strategic, operational and 
tactical levels of war. 



26 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



Chapter 3 



The Way We Were - 

Butch Cassidy and the Center of Gravity: 

Confusion and Chaos, 

Not Understanding 



A review of some recent (this chapter) and current (chapter 
5) Service doctrine manuals reveals quite a discrepancy regarding 
definitions and/or understandings of the terms "center of gravity" 
and "critical vulnerability". But first, I offer you the story of 
"Butch Cassidy and the Center of Gravity," and a commentary by 
its author. 



"Butch Cassidy and the Center of Gravity 



ft i 



This vignette takes place at a CINC's forward 
headquarters at the site of the United States' next major 
military involvement. The CINC's joint campaign planning 
staff has been working for days trying to develop a suitable 
concept of operations. The leader of the planning group, 
sensing the need for everyone to take a break from the task, 
located a television, video cassette player, and a video tape 
copy of the movie "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." 
We join them in the middle of the movie: 



1 Appendix pp 55-60 of monograph, "The Concept of Center of Gravity: Does It Have Utility in 
Joint Doctrine and Campaign Planning?" by Lt Col John D. Saxman, USAF, 28 May 1992, School 
of Advanced Military Studies, United States Army Command and General Staff College, Fort 
Leavenworth, Kansas. 



Perspectives on Warfighting 27 



Marine Corps University 



Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, after 
a long respite in town where they had enjoyed 
good food, good drink, and the company of local 
ladies, are seen returning to their hideout at 
Hole-in-the-Wall. During their long absence, the 
remainder of the Hole-in-the-Wall gang had 
grown restless and decided it was time for some 
action. Harvey, the biggest, meanest, and 
toughest of the gang appointed himself the new 
leader and is in the process of planning a raid on 
the Western Pacific Railroad, when Butch and 
Sundance reappear at the hideout. Butch tells the 
gang that there will be no more train robberies - 
it is too dangerous. From now on the 
Hole-in-the-Wall Gang will only rob banks. The 
gang balks at this order. Harvey decides to 
challenge Butch's leadership of the gang by 
daring him to a knife fight. Butch is obviously 
reluctant to fight. Harvey is clearly twice as big 
and strong as Butch. Butch stalls and diverts 
Harvey's attention by asking him about the rules 
of the fight. Harvey replies that there are no 
rules in a knife fight. At this point Butch rapidly 
approaches Harvey and delivers a decisive kick 
to Harvey's groin, completely catching him off 
guard. Harvey collapses to the ground. The rest 
of the gang rushes up to shake Butch's hand and 
assure him that they were rooting for him all 
along. 

"That's it, that's it. Stop the VCR. Turn on the lights!" 
The Army armor officer jumped to his feet and turned to face 
the small group of majors who had been watching the movie 
with him. "Listen you knuckleheads, we've been working on 
this campaign plan for nine days now and if we don't soon 
reach an agreement on what the enemy's center of gravity is 
* and get on with this plan, the CINC is going to have our 



28 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



^ ^ 

butts. Now I asked you guys to watch this movie tonight 
because I think it illustrates the point I've been trying to 
make about the enemy's center of gravity. Old Butch here, 
clearly understands the Army 100-5 concept of a center of 
gravity better than any of you guys do. Just like the manual 
says, he identified that 'characteristic capability, or locality 
from which the force derives its freedom of action, physical 
strength, or will to fight' and then he decisively destroyed it. 
Butch recognized that Harvey was the gang's ringleader, 
source of physical strength, and the major source of 
opposition to him. By defeating the enemy's source of 
physical and moral strength, which in this case was Harvey, 
he rapidly achieved his objective of regaining leadership of 
the Hole-in-the-Wall gang." 

At this point an Army infantry officer in the group 
spoke up. "I agree with you that Butch Cassidy knew a 
center of gravity when he saw one, but the center of gravity 
that he correctly identified was not Harvey, but rather 
Harvey's testicles. FM 100-5 also says that, 'as with any 
complex organism, some components are more vital than 
others to the smooth and reliable operation of the whole. If 
these are damaged or destroyed, their loss unbalances the 
entire structure, producing a cascading deterioration in 
cohesion and effectiveness which may result in complete 
failure, and which will invariably leave the force vulnerable 
to further damage'." 

After the laughter subsided, the Air Force officer 
assigned to the planning group stood up. "Look guys, I agree 
that the key to Butch regaining control of his gang was to 
defeat Harvey, but the way he did it relied too much on 
deception, surprise, and luck - things that are great to have in 
an operation, but not necessarily something you can count on 
during execution. If Butch had done a little more planning, 
he would have realized that there were at least four centers of 
gravity that needed to be attacked. First, he should have 



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Marine Corps University 



thrown dirt in Harvey's eyes, so that Harvey couldn't see him. 
Next, he should have hit Harvey on both ears so that Harvey 
couldn't hear him. Then after Harvey had become deaf and 
blind, he should have kicked Harvey in the side of his knee 
to immobilize him. Then and only then, he should have 
repeatedly struck blows to Harvey's head until he either gave 
up the will to fight or became unconscious and no longer had 
the ability to pose any opposition." 

With this, a Marine infantry officer in the group literally 
exploded out of his seat. "You see that's the problem with 
you flyboys. You take too mechanistic of an approach to 
warfare. You think that if you destroy A, interdict B, and 
isolate C that the result will be D. Marine Corps' doctrine 
takes into account that warfare is not a precisely calculable 
engineering project, but rather an unpredictable undertaking 
against an enemy that thinks and reacts to your attack. Our 
doctrine says to look for a 'critical enemy vulnerability' and 
then exploit it. In this case Butch should have sparred, 
jabbed, punched, and poked until he discovered a move that 
Harvey couldn't parry. Then he should have exploited that 
vulnerability with repeated blows." 

"Enough is enough," chimed in the Naval officer. "The 
problem with all of you guys is that your services have made 
you so hung up on what is doctrine and what is not, that none 
of you can think for yourself. Sure the Navy has tactical 
doctrine and an overarching maritime strategy, but we 
haven't saddled our officers' operational and strategic 
thinking with manuals like FM 100-5, FMFM 1, or AFM 
1-1. Under the composite warfare concept (CWC) we simply 
give the Officer-in-Tactical-Command (OTC) the mission 
and let him decide how to execute it. Now let's see, in this 
case the OTC would be the AAWC, or maybe the STWC, no 
probably the AWC..." 

From the back of the room, a new voice interrupted. 
"Clausewitz would have said Harvey was the center of 



30 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



gravity because by defeating him, Butch was able to defeat 
all of Harvey's allies and didn't have to fight each one of 
them separately." At once, all eyes shifted to the SAMS 
graduate who until now had been sitting quietly in the back 
of the darkened room, reading a very dog-eared copy of On 
War by the light of a camouflaged penlight. For the first 
time since the campaign planning group had come together, 
they rapidly achieved unanimous agreement. Turning to the 
back of the room they shouted in unison, "Who cares!" 

Author's 1 commentary . Until recently, "Who cares!" 
might have been an appropriate answer to someone debating 
the question of what is, or is not, a center of gravity. For 
years the term has been confined to the halls of academia 
where it served to stimulate thinking and generate scholarly 
debate about how previous campaigns were won or lost. 
Recently, the term migrated from the realm of academia to 
the battlefield planning staff and has become what FM 100-5 
describes as the "key to all operational design". 

Obviously a concept that is considered to be so 
important should be clearly understood by everyone in the 
military. Unfortunately, this is not the case. As the 
hypothetical, but doctrinally-based vignette has suggested, 
there is often little agreement within a service, and even less 
among the services about what constitutes a center of 
gravity, or why it should be attacked. Even when a group of 
people agree on a common conceptional definition, when the 
concept is applied to a specific situation they often identify 
remarkably different enemy characteristics as the center of 
gravity. This raises the obvious concern that the very 
foundation of our campaign planning process may be flawed 
because it is based upon an operational concept that is yet to 
be unequivocally defined, clearly understood, or 
consensually applied. 

[End of story & author's commentary] 
Lt Col Saxman. 



Perspectives on War fighting 31 



Marine Corps University 



mmmmm mmmmm 



Centers of Gravity Definitions - 
They were 180° Apart 



"... yet to be unequivocally defined, clearly understood, or 
consensually applied." A review of three recent service doctrine 
manuals/publications (which have now been superseded) and 
Warden's The Air Campaign reveals that this was no exaggeration: 



[1] Army FM 100-5 (May 1986^ 

Appendix B in the 1986 version of FM 100-5 contained a 
full-page discussion on centers of gravity. 1 Deleting portions of 
that discussion here (while saving time and space) would risk 
failure to convey the complete concept. For that reason, and 
because it will be referred to in chapter 4 of this manuscript, it is 
worth quoting in full: 



» » » » » » » » » 



1 FM 100-5 Operations . HQ Department of the Army, May 1986, pp 179-180, Appendix B "Key 
Concepts of Operational Design" (Emphasis added, except where indicated by footnote as 
being in the original.) 



32 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



"THE CENTER OF GRAVITY 
[FM 100-5, MAY 1986] 

"The concept of centers of gravity is key to all 
operational design. It derives from the fact that an armed 
combatant, whether a warring nation or alliance, an army 
in the field, or one of its subordinate formations, is a 
complex organism whose effective operation depends 
not merely on the performance of each of its 
component parts, but also on the smoothness with 
which these components interact and the reliability 
with which they implement the will of the commander. 
As with any complex organism, some components are 
more vital than others to the smooth and reliable operation 
of the whole. If these are damaged or destroyed, their loss 
unbalances the entire structure, producing a cascading 
deterioration in cohesion and effectiveness which may 
result in complete failure, and which will invariably leave 
the force vulnerable to further damage. 

"The center of gravity of an armed force refers to those 
sources of strength or balance. It is that characteristic, 
capability, or locality from which the force derives its 
freedom of action, physical strength, or will to fight. 
Clausewitz defined it as "the hub of power and 
movement, on which everything depends." Its attack is - 
or should be - the focus of all operations. 

"Tactical formations can and frequently will have 
centers of gravity - a key command post, for example, or 
a key piece of terrain on which the unit's operations are 
anchored. But the concept is more usually and usefully 
applied to larger forces at the operational level, where the 
very size of the enemy force and the scale of its 
operations make difficult the decision where and how best 
to attack it. 

"Even at this level, the center of gravity may well be a 
component of the field force - the mass of the enemy 



Perspectives on Warfighting 33 



Marine Corps University 

force, the boundary between two of its major combat 
formations, a vital command and control center, or 
perhaps its logistical base or lines of communication. 

During the Battle of the Bulge in 1944, St. Vith became a 
center of gravity for defending American forces, failure to 
retain which might have resulted in the complete collapse 
of the Allied center, with potentially disastrous strategic 
consequences. But an operational center of gravity may 
be more abstract - the cohesion among allied forces, for 
example, or the mental and psychological balance of a 
key commander. 

"Finally, at the strategic level, the center of gravity 
may be a key economic resource or locality, the 
strategic transport capabilities by which a nation 
maintains its armies in the field, or a vital part of the 
homeland itself. But it may also be a wholly intangible 
thing. At Verdun in 1916, for example, German and 
French armies sacrificed over a million men contesting a 
piece of real estate of little intrinsic tactical or operational 
value, but whose moral l importance to both sides made 
its uncontested surrender unthinkable. Similarly neither 
Dien Bien Phu nor TET seriously threatened the 
operational capacity of French and American forces 
respectively. But both attacks struck directly at their 
strategic centers of gravity - popular and political support 
of the war. 

"At any level, identifying the enemy's center of 
gravity requires extensive knowledge of his 
organizational make-up, operational patterns, and 
physical and psychological strengths and weaknesses. 

Moreover, centers of gravity can change. A major shift in 
operational direction, the replacement of a key enemy 
commander, the fielding of new units or weaponry - any 
of these events can shift the center of gravity significantly, 

Emphasis in the original. 



34 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



just as adding new weights to a scale alters its point of 
balance. The commander seeking to strike his enemy's 
center of gravity must be alert to such shifts, recognize 
them when they occur, and adjust his own operations 
accordingly. 

"Finally, it should be remembered that while attacking 
the center of gravity may be the surest and swiftest road to 
victory, it will rarely be the easiest road. More often than 
not, the enemy recognizing his center of gravity will take 
steps to protect it, and indirect means will be required to 
force him to expose it to attack. In the process, the enemy 
will do his best to uncover and attack our own. 

"Identification of the enemy's center of gravity and 
the design of actions which will ultimately expose it to 
attack and destruction while protecting our own, are 
the essence of the operational art." ! 



[2] Air Force Manual 1-1 f March 1992) 

The Air Force doctrine manual offered four definitions of 
center of gravity, all from non-Air Force sources: 

"That characteristic, capability, or locality from which 
a force derives its freedom of action, physical strength, 

or will to fight. It exists at the strategic, operational, and 
tactical levels of war. [Joint Test Pub 3-0] 

"The sources of strength and balance from which a 
military force derives its freedom of action, physical 
strength, or will to fight. It may be the mass of the enemy 
force, the seam between two of its major force elements, a 

1 FM 100-5 Operations . HQ Department of the Army, May 1986, pp 179-180, Appendix B "Key 
Concepts of Operational Design" (Emphasis added, except where indicated by footnote as 
being in the original.) 



Perspectives on Warfighting 35 



Marine Corps University 

vital command and control center, its logistical base, its 
lines of communication, or something more abstract, such 
as military cohesion, morale, or the national will. [US 
Army FM 100-5, May 1986] 

"The central feature of the enemy power, 'the hub and 
movement of all power,' the point against which every 
effort should be expended. [General Carl von Clausewitz] 

"Typically: in countries subject to domestic strife, the 
capital; in small countries that rely on large ones, the 
forces of their protector; among alliances, in the 
community of interest; in popular uprisings, the 
personalities of their leaders and public opinion. [General 
Carl von Clausewitz]" l 



[3] USMC FMFM 1 Warfig htin g 

(Not "Centers of Gravity" but "Critical Vulnerabilities") 

FMFM 1 Warfighting contains a superb discussion on 
critical vulnerabilities. Modifying Clausewitz with an appropriate 
page from Sun Tzu, Warfighting espouses the application of 
"combat power toward a decisive aim" by "concentrating strength 
against enemy weakness rather than against strength" - that is, we 
should "seek to strike the enemy where, when, and how he is most 
vulnerable." 2 Warfighting continues: 

"Of all the vulnerabilities we might choose to exploit, 
some are more critical to the enemy than others. It 
follows that the most effective way to defeat our enemy is 
to destroy that which is most critical to him. We should 
focus our efforts on the one thing which, if eliminated, 
will do the most decisive damage to his ability to resist us. 

1 Air Force Manual H, Pasic Aerospace Dpetrine 9f the United States Air Force, Volume II 
(March 1992), pp 275-276. (Emphasis added.) 

2 FMFM 1 Warfighting (Washington, DC: Dept of the Navy, HQUSMC, 6 March 1989) pp 
35-36. 



36 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 

By taking this from him we defeat him outright or at least 
weaken him severely. 

"Therefore, we should focus our efforts against a 
critical enemy vulnerability. Obviously, the more 
critical and vulnerable, the better, [footnote 28 located 
here - see below] But this is by no means an easy 
decision, since the most critical object may not be the 
most vulnerable. In selecting an aim, we thus recognize 
the need for sound military judgment to compare the 
degree of criticality with the degree of vulnerability and to 
balance both against our own capabilities, [superbly 
stated! !] Reduced to its simplest terms, we should strike 
our enemy where and when we can hurt him most." l 

But what does Warfighting say about centers of gravity? 
And their relationship to critical vulnerabilities? The answer is 
buried in footnote 28. 

"28. Sometimes known as the center of gravity.... 
Applying the term to modern warfare, we must make it 
clear that by the enemy's center of gravity we do not mean 
a source of strength, but rather a critical vulnerability." 2 

There it is in plain English! According to FMFM 1 Warfighting . a 
center of gravity is not a source of strength but a critical 
vulnerability: CG = CV. Where did this interpretation come 
from? Did anyone else share it? 



[4] John A. Warden III. The Air Campaig n. 

"'CENTER OF GRAVITY 1 USEFUL IN PLANNING. 

The term 'center of gravity' is quite useful in planning war 
operations, for it describes that point where the enemy 

1 Ibid . (Emphasis in the original.) 

2 Ibid ., p 85 (p 36 in the text). (Emphasis in the original.) 



Perspectives on Warfighting 37 



Marine Corps University 

is most vulnerable and the point where an attack will 
have the best chance of being decisive. The term is 
borrowed from mechanicsf 1 ], indicating a point against 
which a level of effort, such as a push, will accomplish 
more than that same level of effort could accomplish if 
applied elsewhere. Clausewitz called it the 'hub of all 
power and movement."' [cited was p 595 of On War ] 2 

Just as clear as day, there it was again: CG = CV. 



Those Four Publications Offered 
Us a Genuine Smorgasbord 



Those four publications offered us the following definitions 
and examples of centers of gravity: 

♦ smoothness with which military components interact; 

♦ reliability of military components in implementing the 

will of the commander; 

♦ any component of a military organization or in support of 

it, which if damaged or destroyed unbalances the entire 
structure; 

♦ sources of strength or balance (or strength and balance); 

♦ characteristics, capabilities, or localities from which a 

force derives its freedom of action, physical strength, or 
will to fight; 

♦ the hub of all power and movement (or "hub and 

movement of all power") on which everything depends; 

♦ a vital command and control center, or key command 

post; 

♦ a key piece of terrain; 

♦ the mass of the enemy force; 

1 Mechanics: Analysis of the action of forces on matter or material systems. [ Webster's II .] 

2 John A. Warden III. The Air Campaign - Planning for Combat (Washington, DC: National 
Defense University Press, 1988), p 9. 



38 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



♦ the boundary between two major combat formations; 

♦ cohesion among allied forces; 

♦ the mental and psychological balance of a key 

commander; 

♦ a logistical base or lines of communication; 

♦ strategic transport capabilities; 

♦ a key economic resource or locality; 

♦ a vital part of the homeland; 

♦ a wholly intangible thing; 

♦ that point where the enemy is most vulnerable; 

♦ a critical vulnerability - not a source of strength. 

What a smorgasbord! 'Everyman,' y'all come. 




Confusion and Chaos, Not Understanding 



Disagreement about the ultimate answer was (and is) to be 
expected; but the absence of a universal agreement on the need to 
reduce the current plethora of interpretations regarding centers of 
gravity to a single, universally understood and applied concept was 
disappointing. Let's return, for example, to the glossary of Air 
Force Manual 1-1 (which provided four definitions of "center of 
gravity"): 

Air Force Manual 1-1 : "... Many terms [in this glossary] 
have several definitions; the most important terms tend 
to have the most definitions. Providing multiple 
definitions is intended to amplify or expand 
understanding of the term as it is commonly used. 
While a single rigid definition is useful for academic 
purposes, in practice people use terms in different 
ways. Multiple descriptions of the meaning of a word or 
phrase improve our grasp of the term and need never 



Perspectives on Warfighting 39 



Marine Corps University 

reduce our understanding. This glossary, then, is a 
compilation of usages; it is a record of how people have 
used the words most important to basic Air Force 
doctrine - so far." ] 

What a paragraph! If words have different/multiple 
meanings it is because they are used in sometimes widely 
dissimilar professions, environments and contexts. For 

example, the 1 December 1989 version of Joint Pub 1-02, 
Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated 
Terms , did not list "center of gravity," but did contain the 
following entry: 

"center of gravity limits - (NATO): The limits within 
which an aircraft's center of gravity must lie to insure safe 
flight. The center of gravity of the loaded aircraft must be 
within these limits at take-off, in the air, and on landing. 
In some cases, take-off and landing limits may also be 
specified." 2 

This concept of "centers of gravity" is from the aeronautical 
profession, whereas Colonel Warden borrowed his from the field 
of mechanical engineering. FM 100-5 relied on Clausewitz, 
whereas FMFM 1 turned Clausewitz inside out. Air Force Manual 
1-1 seemed to be suggesting that a range of diverse professions, 
environments, and contexts existed within the DOD community 
(multiple Services, multiple levels of war, 3 multiple types of 
conflict, 4 etc.), and that this range therefore justified the creation 
and application of multiple meanings of "centers of gravity". What 
a sweet Siren song! 5 The Air Force could have defined its own 

1 Air Force Manual 1-1. Basic Aerospace Doctrine of the United States Air Force . Volume II 
(March 1992), p 269. 

2 Joint Pub 1-02 (Formerly JCS Pub 1), Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and 
Associated Terms . 1 December 1989, p 63. 

1 National-strategic, theater-strategic, operational and tactical. 

4 Nuclear, conventional, revolutionary, insurgency/counterinsurgency, OOTW/MOOTW. 

5 Siren: Greek Mythology. One of a group of sea nymphs who by their sweet singing lured 
mariners to destruction on the rocks surrounding their island. Siren song: a deceptively alluring 
plea or appeal. [ Webster's II .] 



40 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 

definition of "centers of gravity". Barring that, it could have fallen 
in line behind the Army and accepted and supported FM 100-5's 
version. But with one or both of these options probably too 
difficult politically, the easier way out was to list multiple 
definitions - an understandable course of action. But to also call it 
virtuous is nonsense. Air Force Manual 1-1 did enhance our 
understanding of the multiple interpretations of "centers of gravity" 
operative throughout the DOD community. But when it came to 
facilitating a common understanding of a concept critical to a 
"Joint" DOD community, Air Force Manual 1-1 . Colonel 
Warden's The Air Campaign , and FMFM 1 Warfighting mightily 
muddied waters which even FM 100-5 had left none too clear. 

Just because the term "center of gravity" means different 
things to aircraft pilots, mechanical engineers, and ship drivers 
(center of buoyancy), that does not justify it meaning different 
things to soldiers, airmen, sailors, and Marines. The term "center 
of gravity" should have the same meaning at the strategic, 
operational and tactical levels of war to all members of the 
DOD community, whether they be Army, Air Force, Navy, 
Marine, DOD civilians, or our nation's political leaders and 
their staffs. l 



Not Just One Problem, But Two 

At this point, it was evident that the DOD community was 
faced with a twin challenge. First, the notion that disparate 
understandings and applications of "center of gravity" yields 
largely positive, not negative, results (or the belief that the 
situation at least poses no great danger) had to be challenged. The 
second challenge was to derive 2 a sensible, practical concept of 

1 That said, the mechanical engineering concept of "centers of gravity" has direct application to 
the concept of "critical vulnerabilities" introduced in FMFM 1. Once we understand (as was 
explained in chapter 2) that "critical vulnerabilities" are the opposite of "centers of gravity" and not 
just different terms for the same thing, FMFM 1 Warfighting and Warden's The Air Campaign are 
otherwise right on target. 

2 Derive: To arrive at by reasoning. [ Webster's II .] 



Perspectives on Warfighting 41 



Marine Corps University 

"centers of gravity" and their relationship to "critical 
vulnerabilities," which could be commonly understood and applied 
throughout the DOD community. 

Unfortunately, in the last few years only limited progress 
has been made in addressing these twin problems. A review of 
current Joint and Service manuals/publications in chapter 5 
reveals that while a common definition of centers of gravity has 
been adopted, that definition and the accompanying explanations 
and illustrations provided in each publication show that 
considerable discrepancies still exist regarding the specific nature 
of CGs and their relationship to "critical vulnerabilities" (CVs). 
But before we get to that, chapter 4 offers a common-sense 
approach to this CG-CV problem, which can then be compared to 
the recent progress (or lack thereof) shown in chapter 5. 



42 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



Chapter 4 



The Fix: 
The CG-CC-CR-CV Concept 



The fix for the "Butch Cassidy" phenomenon is the 
adoption and application of the following definitions and concepts 
by the entire DOD community: 

Centers of Gravity: Primary sources of moral or physical 
strength, power and resistance. 

Critical Capabilities: Primary abilities which merits a Center of 
Gravity to be identified as such in the context of a given 
scenario, situation or mission. ] 

Critical Requirements: Essential conditions, resources and 
means for a Critical Capability to be fully operative. 2 

Critical Vulnerabilities: Critical Requirements or COMPO- 
NENTS THEREOF which are deficient, or vulnerable to 
neutralization, interdiction or attack (moral/physical harm) in a 
manner achieving decisive results - the smaller the resources 
and effort applied and the smaller the risk and cost, the better. 3 



1 Ability: Physical, mental, financial, or legal power to perform. Function: The activity for 
which one is specifically fitted or employed. Assigned duty or activity. [ Webster's II .] 

2 Operative: Exerting influence or force. Functioning effectively : efficient. [ Webster's II .] 

' Thus involving the concept of disproportionality. Disproportional: Being out of proportion, 
as in relative size, shape, or amount. [ Webster's II .] 



Perspectives on Warfighting 43 



Marine Corps University 




MBBBwmra^^ 



Leaders 

Moral CGs are fairly straightforward and commonly 
understood. Examples: General Robert E. Lee for the 
Confederacy at both the national strategic level for the nation, and 
the operational and tactical levels for the troops in the field. The 
presence of Napoleon on the battlefield was a powerful moral CG 
for any army which he led and directed; same for Rommel and 
Patton. Prime Minister Winston Churchill is one of the greatest 
examples of a national leader being a moral and political CG at the 
strategic level. So too was President Franklin D. Roosevelt for the 
United States. While his leadership might not have made all that 
much difference regarding the fate of Japan (given the mood and 
determination of the American public after 7 December 1941), he 
made a great deal of difference regarding strategy against 
Nazi-Germany. "By a purely intellectual effort," it was largely he 
who sustained the Germany-first strategy at the national strategic 
level during the first year after Pearl Harbor (when the public 
favored a Japan-first strategy by a two-to-one margin). Operation 
TORCH, the invasion of French Northwest Africa in November 
1942, happened because of President Roosevelt (not the American 
public) who overruled the (Joint) Chiefs of Staff. It was President 
Roosevelt who refused to wait until the spring of 1943 to mount 
and execute the first major Anglo-American offensive in Europe. 
President Roosevelt was clearly a moral and political CG at the 
strategic level vis-a-vis the war against Hitler's Germany. Hitler 
remained a moral and political CG in Nazi-Germany until near the 
end. 



44 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 

Public/popularVnational 2 support 

The "cause" of independence was a strong moral CG for the 
Confederacy at the national strategic level, as were strong state 
loyalties (Lee considered himself first and foremost a Virginian). 
American desire for vengeance and retribution against the Japanese 
after 7 December 1941 turned American public opinion into a 
powerful moral national CG in the war against Japan. 
Communism and Premier Joseph Stalin were not particularly 
popular among the peoples of the Soviet Union in 1941; 
nevertheless the latter strongly supported Stalin's resistance to 
Hitler's invading Nazi hordes. Strong belief in a cause or leader or 
both is the foundation for all national public/popular/people CGs. 



Physical 
Centers of Gravity 



Physical centers of gravity fall into three categories. The 
first category is armed forces, strength, and power at all levels of 
war. The second and third categories pertain to the strategic level: 
national economic/industrial power, and power stemming from 
large populations. 

Armed forces/strength/power 

Pretty straightforward - armies, navies, air fleets (at the 
strategic and theater-strategic level); military units (at all levels) 
which have the capability to exert power, to influence (offensively 
or defensively) unfriendly opponents. 



Popular: Of, representing, or carried on by the people at large. Originating among the people. 
[ We bster's II] 
2 National: Of, relating to, or belonging to a nation as an organized whole. [ Webster's II .] 



Perspectives on Warfighting 45 



Marine Corps University 



National industrial/economic power 

Industrial/economic centers of gravity are the foundations 
of national physical strength. Commonly cited as World War II 
economic/industrial centers of gravity are the Ruhr for Germany, 
the factories which the Soviet Union moved and built east of the 
Urals, and the industrial strength of Great Britain and the United 
States. Our industrial strength (ten-to-one over Japan on 7 
December 1941) was a critical American center of gravity 
sustaining an enormous American war machine - and dwarfing the 
loss of a few old battleships at Pearl Harbor. Total United States 
Lend-lease aid to our allies in World War II was the financial and 
physical equivalent of 555 armored divisions. Now that was 
power, generated by one awesome center of gravity. 

In World War II, all American centers of gravity at the 
national/strategic level could be traced back to American political 
will (the will to fight) and American industrial strength. All moral 
and physical centers of gravity stemed from, or were dependent 
upon, those two bedrock CGs. This explains why the Japanese 
"victory" in the battle of Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 was 
such a monumental disaster. The role and importance of the US 
Pacific Fleet (including its three aircraft carriers) as a center of 
gravity needs to be understood in the perspective of American 
national power. On 7 December 1941, the United States was 
building a fleet of warships which would more than double the size 
of the entire US Navy. When these were completed, we had the 
money, the resources, and the will to again double the size of the 
Navy. Admiral Yamamoto knew this. He understood the bedrock 
foundations of American national power. Because there was 
nothing he or Japan could do about our industrial capacity, 
Admiral Yamamoto banked on "Operation Hawaii" to destroy or 
seriously degrade our national will to fight. His miscalculation and 
terrible blunder lay in his method, not his objective. 



1 Economic: Of or relating to the development, production, and management of material wealth, 
as of a country, household, or business enterprise. Of or relating to matters of finance. [Webster's 
II.] 



46 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 

Large national populations 

Large populations can be strategic centers of gravity. Just 
ask the Japanese and Germans who fought the Chinese and 
Russians during World War II. As one high-ranking Japanese 
officer pleaded just before being executed for failure: "For every 
one [Chinese soldier and guerrilla fighter] we kill, two more 
appear!" Likewise, the common (incorrect) post-war refrain from 
some German Russian-front generals that "We won all the battles 
but lost the war," reflected their awe of the seemingly limitless 
Soviet manpower resources and industrial strength. 



Centers of Gravity are 
Dynamic l Agents 2 of Action or Influence 



Moral CGs at all levels, and political CGs at the strategic 
level, cause things to happen by virtue of their will, influence, and 
leadership. Moral and political CGs are based upon persons and 
people. Moral and political CGs must possess such qualities as 
determination; courage (moral and physical); and the power to 
persuade, inspire, or intimidate. Examples: a strong political 
leader; public opinion, or an influential segment of it, galvanized 
and motivated by a cause; a strong (effective/capable) military 
leader influencing the course of a battle or campaign by virtue of 
his strong will and/or effective plan or stratagem. 

Physical CGs at the strategic level can include direct 
sources and/or centers of military strength, as well as principal 
indirect sources of that strength to include economic/industrial 
power and power stemming from large national populations. At 
the operational and tactical levels, physical CGs are primary 

1 Dynamic: Of or relating to energy, force, or motion in relation to force. Marked by vigor and 
energy. [Webster's II.] 

2 Agent: One that acts or has the authority to act. A force or substance that causes change. A 
means of doing something : instrument. [ Webster's II .] 



Perspectives on Warfighting 47 



Marine Corps University 

sources and/or centers of military strength (i.e., military units and 
formations), which cause things to happen by virtue of their 
military power. 

CENTERS OF GRAVITY ARE NOT "critical require- 
ments" such as C2 systems, transportation nodes, LOCs, and the 
like. Although the latter facilitate communication and movement, 
they do not harbor and express fears, hopes, and expectations; 
make demands; make decisions; lead people; or direct units; as do 
moral and political CGs. Nor do they manufacture essential 
products, hold ground, or oppose enemy forces, as do physical 
CGs. Furthermore, and contrary to the current Joint Pub definition 
discussed in chapter 5, centers of gravity are not characteristics, 
capabilities, or locations; they are the moral, political and 
physical entities which possess certain characteristics and 
capabilities, or benefit from a given location/terrain. l 



| The Relationship Between 
Critical Capabilities 

& 
Critical Requirements 



A National Leader: Critical Capabilities 

What does a national leader have to be able to do, to 
function as a moral or political center of gravity (i.e., to govern 
effectively, to direct or influence national policy and political and 
military courses of action, to lead and/or inspire "the people")? 
Likely answers would suggest that normally such leaders must be 
able to (i.e., have the "ability" to): 

1 See below, chapter 5, page 93. If we apply the term "center of gravity" only to certain 
characteristics, capabilities or locations which affect designated military forces, then what do we 
call the military forces themselves? 



48 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



(1) remain alive - unless he is more valuable as a dead martyr; 

(2) stay informed (receive critical intelligence and informa- 

tion); 

(3) communicate with government officials, military leaders, 

and the nation; and 



(4) remain influential 



Communication can be in person, word of mouth, electronic 
means, or letters and written proclamations. Whatever the means, 
the "people" must continue to believe that a leader-CG is alive and 
providing leadership even when they see no direct evidence. 
Dispossessing a leader-CG of some or all of these "critical 
capabilities" will degrade his overall ability to direct, govern, lead, 
and inspire. If this "overall ability" is degraded far enough, the 
leader will cease to be (cease to function as) a center of gravity. 



A National Leader: Critical Requirements 

There is a difference between "theoretical" critical 
capabilities and "real" critical capabilities. "Real" critical 
capabilities do not materialize out of thin air - they are created and 
sustained by the conditions, resources, and means 1 which are 
required/essential to make them real. Such conditions, resources, 
and means are in fact critical requirements which enable a critical 
capability to be fully operative (as opposed to being only 
theoretical, 2 notional, 3 or abstract 4 ). 

1 Means: ... a method or instrument by which an act can be accomplished ... [ Webster's II .] 

2 Theoretical: Lacking verification or practical application : restricted to theory. [Webster's II.] 

3 Notional: Speculative or theoretical. Existing in the mind : imaginary. [Webster's II.] 

4 Abstract: Considered apart from concrete existence <an abstract idea>. Not applied or practical 
: theoretical. [Webster's II.] 



Perspectives on Warfighting 49 



Marine Corps University 



A National Leader 
(who is a Center of Gravity) 



Critical Capability (to) Corresponding Critical 

Requirements 

(examples of functions) (examples of essential conditions, 

resources and means) 



Remain alive: 



resources and means to be 
protected from all threats 



Stay informed: 



resources and means to 

receive essential intelligence 



Communicate: 
(Govern/command) 



resources and means to 

communicate with government 
officials, military leaders, 
national elites and "the people" 



Remain influential: 



the leader's determination to 

persevere in a "cause" or course 
of action (whether for positive or 
negative reasons) (a condition) 

a reason to maintain confidence or 
hope, or the realization that there 
is no viable alternative (either for 
his country, or for him person- 
ally, or both) (a condition) 

(continued on next page) 



50 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



Critical Capability (to) Corresponding Critical 

Requirements 



the continued support of the people 
and other powerful government 
and military leaders (regardless 
of whether said support stems 
from positive or negative 
motivations) (a condition) 

(perhaps even) the freedom and 
means to travel and make public 
appearances safely 



National Will/Public Support: Critical Capabilities 

To function as a moral and political CG, what must a 
national public be capable of doing? Likely answers would 
suggest that normally the "people" must be able to (i.e., have the 
"capability" to): 

(1) receive communications (information, propaganda, inspir- 

ation and instructions) from the national leadership and 
government; 

(2) to communicate desires to a national leader/government; 

(3) believe in and/or support a "cause" or particular course of 

action; 

(4) believe in and/or continue to support a national leader and 

government; and 

(5) impact/influence positively other CGs 



Perspectives on Warfighting 51 



Marine Corps University 



National Will/Public Support: 
Critical Requirements 



Again, each "critical capability" has to be supported by one 
or more corresponding "critical requirements": 



Critical Capability (to) Corresponding Critical 

Requirements 

(examples of functions) (examples of essential conditions, 

resources and means) 



Receive 
communications : 



the means to receive communica- 
tions 



Communicate 
desires: 



Believe in and/or 
support of a cause, 
course of action, 
or leader/gov't: 



the means to communicate (usually 
via strata of government or 
bureaucracy - lower to higher) 

motivation stemming from: 

>/ confidence or hope in ultimate 

victory or success 
7 voluntary belief/support in a 

noble/necessary cause 
7 situations where the "people" see 

no viable alternative even in 

the absence of confidence or 

hope 
y fear and intimidation (of/by own 

leaders) 



(continued on next page) 



52 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



Critical Capability (to) 



Corresponding Critical 
Requirements 



Positively impact or 
influence other CGs: 
(a nat'l leader or gov't 
already covered above) 



a popular perception that the cost of 
resistance will not exceed the 
anticipated benefits from victory or 
success (except in situations where 
the "people" see no viable alterna- 
tive even in the absence of confid- 
ence or hope - as in a war of 
national extermination or suchlike) 

means for effective mobilization of 
human resources for: 
7 labor for war industries, mining, 

agriculture, transportation, and 

other essential services 
y manpower for active/auxilliary 

armed forces 
y financial support and related 

activities 
7 armed resistance (guerrilla-type 

conflicts/operations) 
y critical political activities (from 

local to national, on both sides 

of the front lines) 



War/Defense Industrial Base: Critical Capabilities 

To function as a physical CG, what must a national 
war/defense industrial base be capable of doing? Essentially it 
boils down to: 

♦ Obtain essential physical resources, 

♦ Transport them to manufacturing centers, 

♦ Process them into effective weapons and related 

essential/supporting products, and 

♦ Transport finished products to military forces. 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



53 



Marine Corps University 



War/Defense Industrial Base: 
Critical Requirements 



These four basic capabilities (above) involve a host of critical 
requirements: 



Critical Capability (to) 

(examples of functions) 



Corresponding Critical 
Requirements 

(examples of essential conditions, 
resources and means) 



Obtain essential 
physical resources: 



National ownership of accessible 
essential physical resources, 
or international access to them 
(meaning, countries being 
willing to sell them to you) 

Financial resources (for mining or 
international purchase) 

Skilled labor required for mining 



Transport essential 
physical resources to 
manufacturing centers: 



Effective/efficient transportation 

system, to include 
Power to run vehicles/carriers (POL, 

electricity, etc.) 
The means to maintain the systems' 

essential components: 

7 Financial resources 

7 Skilled labor 

7 Equipment & resources 



(continued next page) 



54 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



War/Defense Industrial Base: 
Critical Requirements 

(continued) 



Critical Capability (to) 



Process physical 
resources into effective 
weapons and related 
essential/supporting 
products: 



Transport finished 
products to 
military forces: 



Corresponding Critical 
Requirements 

The means to protect the system's 
essential components 

Requisite manufacturing centers, to 

include 
Power to run the plants (electricity, 

etc.) 
The means to maintain the plants/ 

manufacturing capacity 

7 Financial resources 

y Skilled labor 

7 Equipment, machine tools, 
other resources 
The means to protect vital manufact- 
uring centers 

(Same as " Transport ... to manufactur- 
ing centers.") 



The above represents only a general depiction of "critical 
capabilities" and associated "critical requirements" at the strategic 
level. Nevertheless, it is easy to see how this concept could be 
applied to the "operational" and "tactical" levels, where the focus 
would be on individual components and even sub-components of 
the four main functions - obtain, transport, process, transport - of 
the overall system. (Looking ahead a bit, the relationship between 
"critical requirements" and "critical vulnerabilities" will become 
readily apparent.) 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



55 



Marine Corps University 



The Difference Between 
Economic/Industrial Centers of Gravity 

and 

Critical Requirements 

at the Strategic Level of War 



:.;" .:.■,;:;. •/ : 






:v /: ;^: : yv: : v,:-.v:^VvM 



"The first task ... in planning for a war is to identify the 
enemy's centers of gravity, and if possible trace them back to a 
single one." l The difference between an economic/industrial 
center of gravity and an entity which we would label as a critical 
requirement at the strategic level is a matter of strategic 
perspective. Admittedly, one could view the enormous American 
industrial strength in World War II as a "critical requirement" 
necessary to create and sustain our armies, fleets and air forces, and 
label it accordingly. That label and characterization, however, 
would misrepresent the strategic importance and status of our 
national industrial strength, especially in relation to the individual 
components (such as oil, coal, iron ore, railroads, electricity, 
factories, skilled workers, etc.) which contributed to it. 



How Are We Doing So Far? 



On War , p 619. See this monograph, chapter 2, page 9. 



56 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



"Centers of Gravity/ 1 
"Critical Capabilties" and 
"Critical Requirements" 



Examples Relating to the 
U.S. Pacific Fleet in WWII 



U.S. Physical Centers of Gravity in the Pacific: 

♦ US Pacific Fleet 

o Submarines (Attacking the Japanese 

Merchant Marine) 
o Third/Fifth Fleet 
o Amphibious Assault Task Forces 

♦ Joint/Combined forces under MacArthur's command 

♦ B-29s based in the Mariana Islands after June 1944 



The next six pages contain examples relating only to the 
U.S. Pacific Fleets three major components during World War 
II. The examples listed are suggestive and not exhaustive. Not 

listed, for example, are such things as doctrine and C2 systems. 
Although several tactical examples are provided, there is no end to 
the possible lists of tactical requirements associated with any single 
operational or tactical critical requirement, such as, for example, 
communication gear and systems for task force communication to 
higher headquarters, inter-task force communication (as with 
Operation Forager in June 1944), and the coordination of naval gun 
fire and close air support during an amphibious assault. 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



57 



Marine Corps University 



Submarines 
(Attacking the Japanese Merchant Marine) 



Critical Capability Corresponding Critical 

Requirements 

(examples of functions) (examples of essential conditions, 

resources and means) 

Project (theater-strategic) Forward bases (Darwin, Midway, 
Power Tulagi, Saipan/Guam) 

Long Distances: Long-legged, fuel-efficient, 
(MOVE /REACH) high-fuel capacity "boats" 

Locate (operational) Excellent intelligence (ULTRA, etc.) 
Targets: General knowledge of shipping and 

(SEE / FIND) convoy routes 

(tactical) Excellent optics, RDF gear 

Sub-borne radar (later in war) 

Surprise (tactical) Quiet "boats" 

Targets and their Long-range optical gear (later, 

Escorts: sub-borne radar) 

(SURPRISE) Ability to fire at long ranges 

7 Long-range torpedoes 
>/ Long-range targeting system 

Hit and (tactical) Excellent optics and targeting 

Destroy system 

Targets: Good torpedoes (explode on 

(KILL) contact/proximity) 

Good tactics (good firing angles at 
effective ranges) 

(continued next page) 



58 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



Submarines 
(Attacking the Japanese Merchant Marine) 

(continued) 



Critical Capability 



Corresponding Critical 
Requirements 



Escape: (tactical) Submarines capable of (after firing 

(SURVIVE) torpedoes): 

y Diving deep, 

y Getting away before convoy 

escorts close in, 
7 Remaining quiet, or otherwise 
hiding 



Take (tactical) Well-built submarines able to 

Punishment: withstand depth charges 

(SURVIVE) (except for very near or direct hits) 

Damage control procedures 
(for minor damage) 

Well-trained, well-steeled crews 

Maintain (national- Capacity to more than replace losses 

Sub Fleet strategic) in boats and crews 

Strength: (theater- Excellent permanent repair facilities 

(RECOVER strategic) (Pearl Harbor) 

and EXPAND) 



» » » » » » » » » 



Up Next: U.S. Third/Fifth Fleet 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



59 



Marine Corps University 



Third/Fifth Fleet 



Critical Capability 

(examples of functions) 



Corresponding Critical 
Requirements 

(examples of essential conditions, 
resources and means) 



Project (theater-strategic) 

Power 

Long (theater-strategic) 

Distances: 

(MOVE) (operational) 

(REACH) (operational) 

(operational) 
(tactical) 

(tactical) 



Secure bases/anchorages 

(Pearl Harbor, Ulithi) 
Well-provisioned forward logistics 

bases 
Robust, long-legged sea train 
Fast, fuel-efficient, high-fuel 

capacity large warships 
Large fleet carriers 
Excellent carrier aircraft, flown by 

skilled airmen 
Excellent ship-to-ship refueling and 

supply system 



Locate (theater-strategic) Excellent theater-strategic 
Enemy intelligence (ULTRA, etc.) 

Fleet Units: (operational) Long-range recce aircraft; RDF; 
(SEE) submarine patrols 

(tactical) Carrier-borne reconnaissance 
aircraft; shipboard radar 



(continued next page) 



» » » » » » » » » 



60 



Perspectives on Warfighting 









Centers of Gravity 




Third/Fifth Fleet 








(continued) 




Critical Capa 


bilitv 


Corresponding Critical 
Requirements 


Parry 


(tactical) 


Excellent anti-aircraft defenses 


and 




7 Shipboard radar 


Survive 




y Excellent defensive fighter 


Enemy 




control system 


Air & Sub 




7 Heavy & effective AAA 


Attacks: 




Excellent damage-control 


(DEFEND) 




procedures 


(SURVIVE) 




Rugged, well-built ships 

Excellent anti-submarine escort 

vessels 
Well-trained, highly-motivated 

sailors 


Destroy Enemy (tactical) 


Effective carrier-borne attack aircraft 


Fleet Units: 




Effective surface warships 


(KILL) 




(if ship-to-ship engagements) 
7 Shipboard radar, fire-control 
systems, etc. 


Maintain 


(national- 


National capacity to more than 


Fleet 


strategic) 


replace losses 


Strength: 




y Warships and aircraft (all types) 


(RECOVER) 




y Superb pilot training program 


(& EXPAND] 


1 


y Sea train units 

y Logistics, logistics, logistics 


(theater-strategic) 


Excellent permanent repair facilities 



(operational) 
(Applies also to Amphibious 
Assault Task Forces, next page) 



(Pearl Harbor) 
Excellent mobile repair facilities 
(floating dry docks) 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



61 



Marine Corps University 



Amphibious Assault Task Forces 



Critical Capability 

(examples of functions) 



Corresponding Critical 
Requirements 

(examples of essential conditions, 
resources and means) 



Select (theater-strategic) Intelligence on enemy plans, 
Targets: capabilities (ULTRA, etc.) 

(LOOK) (operational) Intelligence on suitability of target 
(EXAMINE) vis a vis strategic and campaign 

objectives (airfields/sites for) 
(tactical) Intelligence on enemy defenders and 
defenses and terrain obstacles 
(submerged coral reef) 

Project (theater-strat) Forward troop bases/assembly ports 

Power (operational) Long-legged troop transports 

Long Distances: Robust, long-legged sea train 
(MOVE/REACH) 



Parry (operational) 

Enemy 

Threats in 

Transit to (tactical) 

Target Area: 

(ARRIVE INTACT) 

Amphibious (tactical) 
Assault — 
Ship-to-Shore 
Movement: 
(MOVE to CLOSE) 



Protection by US Pacific Fleet or the 
Absence of threat by the Imperial 

Japanese Navy 
Escort screen (against submarines) 



Air supremacy over the objective 

area 
Noninterference by the Imperial 

Japanese Navy/subs 
Sufficient, suitable landing craft 
Well-trained landing-craft crews 
Well-trained, well-steeled assault 

troops 



62 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



Amphibious Assault Task Forces 

(continued) 



Critical Capability 



Corresponding Critical 
Requirements 



Amphibious (tactical) Air supremacy over objective area 



Assault — 
Suppress/Destroy 
Enemy Defensive 
Firepower: 
(SUPPRESS or KILL) 



Effective naval bombardment force 
y Older battleships dedicated, 

trained and equipped for 

Naval Gun Fire (NGF) against 

enemy defenses 
Close Air Support (CAS) from 
escort-carrier force 
7 Pilots trained/dedicated to close 

air support 
7 CAS aircraft 
y CAS ordnance 



Capture (tactical) 

Heavily-defended 

Objectives: 



Suppression of enemy (ground) 
firepower by NGF/CAS 

Elite units able to function while 
suffering high casualties 

Ship-to-shore logistical support 
y Transports off shore for the 
duration of the operation 



Preserve (oper/tac) 

Infantry 

Assault (operational) 

Units: 

(PRESERVE (strategic) 

& RECOVER) 

(unit level) 



Rotate/replace units during 

operations (if possible) 
Withhold units from current 

operation to prepare for the next 
Capacity to replace losses; create 

new units 
Excellent Esprit gig corps of assault 

units (old and new) 
Veteran soldiers maintain 

perseverance and will to win 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



63 



Marine Corps University 



Look at 
"Critical Requirements" 

to Discover 
"Critical Vulnerabilities" 

. _ _ - . 



Critical Vulnerabilities : Critical Requirements or 
COMPONENTS THEREOF which are deficient, or 
vulnerable to neutralization, interdiction or attack 
(moral/physical harm) in a manner achieving 
decisive results - the smaller the resources and effort 
applied and the smaller the risk and cost, the better. 



For three years the Japanese sought desperately to find 
critical vulnerabilities among the critical requirements * associated 
with American amphibious operations leap-frogging across the 
Pacific toward the Japanese Home Islands. The Japanese failed 
time and again; but they came uncomfortably close on at least five 
occasions: 



Guadalcanal 
8-9 August 1942 



Betio (Tarawa Atoll) 
20 Nov 1943 



Leyte Gulf 
24 October 1944 



Iwo Jima 
19 February 1945 



Okinawa 
April - June 1945 



» » » » » » » » » 



1 Although they did not use the CG-CC-CR-CV vocabulary, Japanese commanders thought and 
planned in accordance with at least a rough approximation of this concept in each of the five 
occasions described. 



64 



Perspectives on War fighting 



Centers of Gravity 



r 



Guadalcanal 

8-9 August 1942 

U.S. Critical Capability: Seize Island Objectives 

(Japanese-held islands) 

U.S. Critical Requirement 

Considered by the Japanese Ship-to-shore logistical 

to be a Critical Vulnerability: support 

In quick reaction to American landings on Tulagi & 
Guadalcanal, Japanese aircraft at Rabaul launched a series 
of daylight attacks against the supporting U.S. cargo 
ships, so disrupting their activities that by nightfall (8 
August) some of them were only 25 percent offloaded. 
Heading toward the area at full speed was a Japanese 
force of five heavy and two light cruisers and a destroyer, 
commanded by Vice Admiral Gunichi Mikawa. His 
mission was to break up the invasion by a night attack on 
the transports. In a confused night battle which began one 
hour after midnight, Mikawa's ships sank 4 Allied cruisers 
with only minor damage to themselves. At 0220, Mikawa 
ordered his ships to regroup north of the battle area. 
Mindful that he had not completed his mission, Mikawa 
considered reentering "Iron-bottom" Sound to blast the 
transports. He instead elected to retire speedily 
northwestward, so as to escape retaliatory daylight air 
strikes from nearby American carriers, and also to lure 
those carriers closer to Rabaul-based Japanese aircraft. 

In the heat of battle, Mikawa changed his priorities 
(and his mission) from destruction of the American 
transports to the preservation of his own force and the 
destruction of the American carriers. Understandable as 
his decision might be, he thereby lost his opportunity to 
sink the critically important American cargo ships. 



Perspectives on Warfighting 65 



Marine Corps University 



r 



Betio (Tarawa Atoll) 

20 Nov 1943 



U.S. Critical Capability: Suppress Japanese 

Defensive Firepower 

U.S. Critical Requirements Adequate Intelligence on 
Considered by the Japanese Japanese Defenses, and an 
to be Critical Vulnerabilities: Effective Naval 

Bombardment Force 

The Japanese on Betio conceived, constructed and 
concealed their defenses to ensure that enough troops and 
defensive firepower would survive a preinvasion 
American air and naval bombardment to slaughter the 
American assault troops in the water and on the beach, 
thereby defeating an invasion of Betio island (even if the 
Japanese Navy could not come to their aid). The Japanese 
commander on Betio was banking that hoped-for 
deficiencies in two American critical requirements would 
be great enough to turn them into critical vulnerabilities: 

(1) "Adequate" Intelligence . The Americans knew 
the extent of the Japanese defenses, but failed to 
appreciate their "hardness" or invulnerability to ordinary 
high explosive bombs or shells. Nor did the American 
planners heed vital information (written into Admiral 
Turner's operation plan) about the depth of water over an 
offshore coral reef during periods of neap tides. This 
omission, miscalculation or mistake meant that on D-Day 
the conventional non-tracked landing craft carrying the 
4th, 5th and 6th waves of Marines grounded on the edge 
of the reef. Unexpectedly their passengers had to wade 
through six hundred yards of chest-deep, machine-gun 
swept water just to reach a beach which was itself under 
intense enemy fire. 



66 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



Betio (Tarawa Atoll) 

20 Nov 1943 

(continued) 

(2) An Effective Naval Bombardment Force . 

Whereas the Americans thought that it would be more 
than adequate, the preparatory bombardment was 
woefully insufficient because the ammunition used failed 
to penetrate bunkers sheltering Japanese troops. When 
the naval bombardment was lifted (to avoid friendly 
casualties) the first wave was still 15 minutes from the 
beach - plenty of time for the relatively unscathed 
Japanese defenders to emerge from their bunkers and man 
their defenses. Although the amtracs carrying the first 
three waves of Marines were able to crossover the coral 
reef, they did so under a crescendo of anti-boat, 
machine-gun and rifle fire that killed or wounded many of 
the passengers. 

The Marines succeeded in seizing the tiny island in a 
gruesome four-day battle in which they paid a shockingly 
high price in dead and wounded. Had there not been 
enough Marines in the task force to compensate for the 
terrible D-Day casualties, or had they been ordinary 
soldiers, history would have recorded a Japanese victory 
in the battle for Betio on 20 November 1943. Fortunately 
significant deficiencies in two American critical 
requirements (i.e., "potential" critical vulnerabilities) were 
more than compensated for by a third critical requirement: 
a sufficient number of elite assault troops able to function 
- to close with and destroy the enemy - while suffering 
horribly high casualties. 



V 



Perspectives on Warfighting 67 



Marine Corps University 



Leyte Gulf 

24 October 1944 



U.S. Critical Capability: Seize Island Objectives 

(Japanese-held islands) 

U.S. Critical Requirement 

Considered by the Japanese Ship-to-shore Logistical 

to be a Critical Vulnerability: Support 



The Japanese responded to the American invasion of 
Leyte on 20 October 1944 with their SHO-1 plan. SHO-1 
was designed to defeat the invasion by destroying the US 
cargo ships which supported it - if necessary by 
sacrificing most of what remained of the Imperial 
Japanese Navy. The success of SHO-1 depended on 
Admiral Takeo Kurita's "Center Force" of 5 battleships, 
1 2 cruisers and 1 5 destroyers, which would be assisted by 
a smaller "Southern Force". The mission of both forces 
was to destroy the American transports and cargo ships in 
Leyte Gulf in a simultaneous attack from two different 
directions. A third Japanese "Northern Force" under 
Admiral Ozawa acted as a decoy to lure Admiral Halsey's 
US Third Fleet - including its fast battleships - 
northward. The plan started well in that Halsey took the 
bait - but only after his big fleet carriers had given 
Kurita's ships a good pounding and reported them 
retreating. But Kurita reversed course again, and shortly 
after midnight emerged undetected from the San 
Bernardino Strait with most of his force intact. Reassured 
by Japanese reports that Halsey was (finally) off to the 
north in pursuit of Ozawa's decoy force, Kurita sped east, 
then cut south along the coast of Samar toward Leyte 
Gulf. 



^ 



68 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



Leyte Gulf 

24 October 1944 

(continued) 

Between 0600 and 1130 Kurita's ships engaged in a 
running battle with aircraft and destroyers from three 
groups of American escort carriers supporting the 
invasion. Although inflicting little serious damage, the 
intensity and aggressiveness of the air attacks in particular 
confused and unnerved Kurita. He believed that such 
furious attacks could come only from Halsey's big fleet 
carriers which must be nearby (despite Japanese reports to 
the contrary), and that Halsey's fast battleships must also 
be closing rapidly behind him. Kurita therefore ordered 
his entire force to (again) turn about. It is not clear 
whether he was motivated by fear (to preserve his force to 
fight another day) or glory (to engage a target far more 
worthy of a warrior than a bunch of lowly cargo ships). 
Regardless, by the time he discovered that Halsey's 
battleships were not in his rear, he had steamed too far 
north to turn back around in pursuit of his original 
mission. 

Under SHO-1, it was clearly understood that Kurita's 
force was expendable in the context of an opportunity to 
destroy the American cargo ships and transports. Kurita, 
however, changed his priorities and mission in the heat of 
battle. In so doing, he squandered a "possible" 
opportunity to accomplish his original mission - had, of 
course, he been able to deal successfully with the older 
American Seventh-Fleet battleships (which had already 
destroyed the Japanese "Southern Force" in the Surigao 
Strait) as he entered the mouth of Leyte Gulf. 



Perspectives on Warfighting 69 



Marine Corps University 





Iwo Jima 

19 February 1945 



U.S. Critical Capability: Suppress Japanese 

Defensive Firepower 

U.S. Critical Requirements Adequate Intelligence on 
Considered by the Japanese Japanese Defenses, and an 
to be Critical Vulnerabilities: Effective Naval 

Bombardment Force 



With all hopes of victory long since gone, by 1945 the 
Japanese had adopted a strategy designed to inflict 
maximum casualties on American ground and naval 
forces in the hopes of securing something more than 
unconditional surrender. The Japanese conceived, 
constructed and concealed their defenses on Iwo Jima 
toward that end. There would be no defiant, futile direct 
defense of the landing beaches. Instead all likely landing 
areas were covered indirectly with all manner of weapons 
dug into the volcanic rock of Iwo Jima in deadly 
combinations of reverse and frontal slopes. A successful 
Japanese defense was predicated on the expectation that 
American intelligence resources would be unable to detect 
the full extent and nature of their defenses - and that the 
American preinvasion air and naval bombardment plans 
would be flawed accordingly. 

The Japanese plan almost worked. H-Hour on D-Day, 
19 February 1945, was preceded by an intense three-day 
bombardment which culminated in the heaviest 
"prelanding" bombardment of the war (85 minutes of 
deliberate, aimed shelling; followed by rocket, machine 
gun, and bombing attacks by more than a hundred Fifth 
Fleet aircraft; followed by a fast "neutralizing fire"; fol- 



70 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



Iwo Jima 

19 February 1945 

(continued) 



lowed by planes again strafing the beaches just prior to 
touchdown by the first wave of landing craft). Never- 
theless, most of the Japanese defenses and defenders 
remained intact - to the horrible surprise of the Marines 
hitting the beach. 

The US bombardment force had been relatively 
ineffective in neutralizing the Japanese defenses. Had 
there not been enough Marines in the task force to 
compensate for the terrible D-Day casualties, or had they 
been ordinary soldiers, on 19 or 20 February 1945 history 
would have recorded a Japanese victory in the battle for 
Iwo Jima. As was the case at Betio, the inherent strength 
in a third critical requirement prevented significant 
deficiencies in two other critical requirements from 
becoming critical vulnerabilities. Once again, an Amer- 
ican amphibious task force contained sufficient numbers 
of elite assault troops able to suffer horribly high 
casualties and still close with and destroy the enemy - 
even though total American casualties exceeded those 
suffered by the Japanese defenders. 



» » » » » » » » » 



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"\ 



Okinawa 

April - June 1945 



U.S. Critical Capability: Seize Island Objectives 

(Japanese-held islands) 

U.S. Critical Requirements Intelligence on Japanese 
Considered by the Japanese Defense Capabilities, 
to be Critical Vulnerabilities Air Defense Fighter Screen, 
(i.e., deficient or lacking in and Anti-Aircraft Armament 
effectiveness): (AAA) on US Fifth Fleet 

Warships Protecting Ship- 
to-Shore Logistical Support 

The Japanese based their defense of Okinawa on the 
Shuri line and the kamikaze. As was the case at Peleliu 
and Iwo Jima, the Japanese established their main line of 
resistance inland - constructing an elaborate system of 
caves and pillboxes with deadly fields of fire in naturally 
hilly terrain at a narrow waist of the island about five 
miles north of the port of Naha. From that position the 
Japanese believed that their 77,000 defenders could 
defend the southern third of the island for a good long 
while. Time enough for kamikaze air attacks to inflict 
decisive losses on U.S. Fifth Fleet warships, which 
shielded the transports and cargo ships which supported 
the American ground forces. The Japanese imagined two 
possible victorious scenarios. The kamikazes might 
compel the Americans to quit the invasion outright. If 
not, a serious weakening of the Fifth Fleet would permit 
the Japanese to redirect their kamikazes against the 
American ship-to-shore logistical support. Deprived of 
full air support and critical supplies and ammunition, the 
American ground forces would themselves be vulnerable 
to counter-attack by the carefully husbanded Japanese gar- 



72 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 

r ' 

Okinawa 

April - June 1945 

(continued) 



rison. The Japanese perceived two American critical 
vulnerabilities: (1) poor U.S. intelligence regarding 
Japanese defenses on Okinawa as well as the existence of 
large numbers of kamikazes in the Japanese Home 
Islands, and (2) the vulnerability of American warships to 
large-scale kamikaze attacks. 

It was a good plan. Several Marine and Army 
divisions took nearly three months to break through the 
Shuri line, at a cost of 7,613 killed and 31,800 wounded. 
Fifth Fleet fighters could not form an impenetrable 
barrier, and the relentless kamikazes sank 34 vessels (none 
larger than a destroyer) and damaged 368 others (many 
seriously). Fortunately the fighters were able to break up 
most of the kamikaze formations and to shoot many of 
them down. Shipborne AAA accounted for many more; 
while thousands of skilled and courageous sailors made 
damage control an effective last line of defense. Once 
again, strengths in several critical requirements enabled 
the vast armada of warships, transports and cargo ships to 
continue supporting the battle ashore, while it inflicted 
and suffered serious damage in its own deadly battle at 
sea. When it was all over, American intelligence had 
proven to be somewhat deficient, and the vast American 
invasion armada had proven to be somewhat vulnerable. 
But because the American fighter screen and ship-borne 
AAA and damage control parties were more effective than 
the Japanese had anticipated, because of the sheer size of 
the invasion armada, and because of the fighting spirit and 
stamina of the soldiers and Marines ashore - there were 
no American "critical" deficiencies or vulnerabilities. 

V y 

Perspectives on Warfighting 73 



Marine Corps University 



A Precise Relationship Exists Between 

"Centers of Gravity " 

and 

"Critical Vulnerabilities" 



■■■ ■■.■■■ ■■■ ■ ■■■ ■ .■■■■■■ -■ ■• ■ ■ ■ ■ 



Critical Vulnerabilities are weaknesses which can be 
exploited to undermine, neutralize and/or defeat an enemy center 
of gravity. By definition, a center of gravity cannot also be a 
critical vulnerability. Currently, there is considerable confusion 
on this point. Understanding the relationship among CGs, critical 
capabilities, and vulnerable critical requirements (i.e., critical 
vulnerabilities) not only permits, but compels, greater precision in 
thought and expression. In our business, greater precision is 
important. 

Take for example an enemy air defense system that is well 
developed and equipped, robust, and manned with well-trained 
crews. The friendly commander regards it as an enemy center of 
gravity - an agent/instrument of strength and power. But his 
planners have also identified a number of critical vulnerabilities: 
the system's primary power supply, its command and control net, 
and its radar sites (the latter to advanced technology missiles when 
the sites are 'turned on'). There are two ways to express/brief this 
situation: 

First : "Sir. The enemy air defense system is a vital 
component of the enemy's overall military power in 
this theater of operations; it is one of his principal 
centers of gravity in this theater of operations. It must 
be destroyed or neutralized before we can conduct 
effective, sustained air attacks against any of his 
front-line ground forces or his mobile, elite reserve 
units. Fortunately, the air defense system is highly 
vulnerable. In fact, we consider it to be the enemy's 



74 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 

number one critical vulnerability, which we intend to 
exploit in the following manner. Prior to D-Day we 
will use our advanced technology missiles to destroy 
or neutralize the system's radar sites while we 
simultaneously target the system's primary power 
supply and principal command and control centers. 
Sir, with the air defense system disposed of, the rest 
of our plan will unfold in the following manner " 

OK. What do you think? Not bad? Think that was clear 
enough? Despite calling the air defense system both a center of 
gravity and a critical vulnerability, the briefing probably is clear 
enough and good enough. But consider the alternative: 

Second : "Sir. We regard the enemy's air defense 
system to be one of his principal centers of gravity in 
this theater of operations. It must be destroyed or 
neutralized before we can conduct effective, 
sustained air attacks against any of his front-line 
ground forces or his mobile, elite reserve units. To 
be effective, the vital components of the air defense 
system have to be able to see us, communicate 
internally, and shoot us. See, talk, shoot - these are 
the system's critical capabilities. Based on our 
examination of the system's critical requirements, 
which enable it to see, talk, and shoot, we have 
identified and plan to exploit three critical 
vulnerabilities: prior to D-Day we will use our 
advanced technology missiles to destroy or neutralize 
the system's radar sites while simultaneously 
targeting the system's primary power supply and 
principal command and control centers. Sir, with the 
air defense system no longer able to see, talk, or 
shoot, the rest of our plan will unfold in the following 
manner " 



Perspectives on Warfighting 75 



Marine Corps University 

The second version expresses more clearly the relationship 
and linkage between center of gravity and critical vulnerabilities. 
The power supply, command and control net, and radar sites are 
the "critical vulnerabilities," not the air defense system itself. 
The Imperial Japanese Navy in World War II provides another 
example. The fleet oilers necessary to refuel the fleet at sea and 
the fuel supply itself (critical requirements) were both "critical 
vulnerabilities". A critical vulnerability is the thing which 
makes a center of gravity vulnerable. Even when a center of 
gravity itself contains/possesses a critical vulnerability, CG still 
does not equal CV. 

Furthermore, only vulnerabilities related to centers of 
gravity are "critical" vulnerabilities. If something is 
vulnerable but relatively irrelevant, then so what? We can list 
it as vulnerability, but not as a "critical vulnerability". 



The CG-CC-CR-CV Concept 

Applied to the 

1986 Version of Army FM 100-5 



; ..: .•.;•;'.■':-:-: 



..;.'-. , ' ■'• 



Because chapter 5 will review only current Joint/Service 
doctrinal manuals/publications (regarding discussions of centers of 
gravity and critical vulnerabilities), it will address the June 1993 
version of FM 100-5, which contains a briefer discussion of centers 
of gravity with far fewer examples compared to the 1986 version 
of Army FM 100-5. But because so many folks are familiar with 
it, and because its treatment of centers of gravity is more elaborate 
with many more examples (than the 1993 version), the 1986 
version will be analyzed below in light of the CG-CC-CR-CV 
concept. (The passage dissected below was reprinted above on 
pages 33-35.) Much of what the 1986 version said regarding 
centers of gravity applies instead to critical requirements. If its 



76 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 

definition of centers of gravity were modified a la the 
CG-CC-CR-CV concept, the following two sentences would apply 
directly to the concept of critical requirements (instead of 
centers of gravity): 

"As with any complex organism, some components 
are more vital than others to the smooth and reliable 
operation of the whole. If these are damaged or 
destroyed, their loss unbalances the entire 
structure, producing a cascading deterioration in 
cohesion and effectiveness which may result in 
complete failure, and which will invariably leave 
the force vulnerable to further damage." 

According to the CG-CC-CR-CV concept, most of the items 
listed as examples of centers of gravity in the 1986 version of FM 
1 00-5 are instead critical requirements as is indicated below and on 
the next four pages: 



Examples 
Centers of Gravity 
according to 
1986 FM 100-5: 



As indicated below, most of these items 
are "Critical Requirements" (CR) 
(corresponding CCs and CGs are 
indicated in parenthesis): 



Tactical: 

♦a key 
command post 



Caution! CG only if "command post" = 
the commander himself; but if it = 
the whole works, then it is a CR. 
(CC = capability to exercise effective C2) 
(CR = required equipment and staff) 



a key 

piece of terrain 



CR 

(CC = capability of a given force to defend 
an area - either via superior 
firepower, possession of "good" 
ground, or some other advantage) 

(CG = the force defending the area/key 
piece of terrain) 



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Marine Corps University 



Operational: 

♦ the mass of 
the enemy force 



boundary between 
two major 
combat formations 



♦ vital command 
and control center 



CG (but see chapter 2, page 9, "A Word of 
Caution Regarding 'Mass' Since 
Clausewitz' Day") 

CV: boundaries are usually prime 

candidates for being weaknesses 

CR = the means to coordinate and to cover 
gaps, seems and flanks. 

(CC = the capability of the two formations 
to coordinate operations side-by- 
side) 

(CG = the formations themselves or the 
larger force to which these 
formations belong, or a related 
entity such as a commander 
controlling the formations) 

CR (see "a key command post" above) 



logistical base 
or LOCs 



♦ St. Vith 
(Battle of the 
Bulge 1944) 



CR 

(CC = capability for logistical sustainment) 
(CG = forces being sustained, and/or the 

commander controlling the forces 

being sustained) 

St. Vith itself should not be referred to as 
a CG, CC, or CV. 

(CRs = surrounding terrain and road 
network.) 

(CC = the capability of the outnumbered 
American forces to disrupt and 
delay German spearheads long 
enough to permit General 
Eisenhower to assemble a strategic 
response to the German offensive.) 



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Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 

(Local CG = the American forces defending 
St. Vith.) 

(Potential CV = a US command decision to 
defend St. Vith too long with too 
many US forces which would have 
been surrounded and lost.) (See 
discussion on "Obstacles" later in 
this chapter.) 

♦ (Abstract) CRs = factors which contribute to cohesion 
cohesion among (CC = the capability of Allied forces to 
allied forces work well together) 

(CG = the forces themselves) 

♦ (Abstract) CR = mental/psychological balance of a 
mental, commander, 
psychological (CC = the capability of a commander 
balance of a key to exert a positive influence on 
commander battles, campaigns, and strategies.) 

(CG = the commander himself and/or the 
forces he commands) 

Strategic: 

♦ a key economic CG(?) The words "manufacturing asset" 
resource or would be more appropriate. The 
locality word "resource" can apply to 

specific components of the total 
economic system, such as for 
example, oil, coal, or iron ore, 
which - even if they exist in great 
abundance - do not by themselves 
manufacture anything. (The CG is 
not the "locality" per se but the 
manufacturing assets capable of 
producing significant quantities of 
vital strategic finished products - 



Perspectives on Warfighting 79 



Marine Corps University 



such as the assets located in the 
Ruhr, Silicon Valley, or the 
Youngstown-Pittsburgh area in 
WWII. Oil, coal, minerals, 
electricity are supporting critical 
requirements.) 



strategic 

transport 

capabilities 



CC (See pages 53-55, this chapter.) 
CR = strategic transport assets 



vital part of CG - but only if it is a base for 

the homeland manufacturing or human assets, or a 

capital city. Plain old "key terrain" 
does not qualify as a CG. (See the 
discussion on "Obstacles" later in 
this chapter.) 



a wholly 
intangible thing 
- such as the 
moral importance 
ofVerduninl916 



Caution! At the national strategic level the 
French will to fight would be 
considered a moral CG - since the 
people of France might continue to 
resist even if most of her field 
armies were destroyed, as in 1870. 
However, at the operational level 
the following terms would apply: 

CRs = French will to fight for Verdun, and 
the terrain and defenses surrounding 
Verdun. 

CC = the capability of French forces to 

defend Verdun against the German 
onslaught. 

CG = the French forces defending Verdun 
(and, to a higher level commander, 
those which could be committed 
to its defense). Without forces to 



80 



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Centers of Gravity 

defend Verdun, it will be lost to 
the Germans whether France 
continues to resist or not. The 
forces are the CG; the CC is their 
capability to defend Verdun; the 
CRs are the conditions, resources, 
and means necessary to make the 
CC a reality. 

(Potential CV = If the Germans had 

possessed enough forces to envelop 
Verdun, and the French High 
Command remained determined to 
hold it at all costs, sizable French 
forces could have been surrounded.) 
(See the discussion on "Obstacles" 
later in this chapter.) 



popular and 
political support 
of the war 
(struck directly 
by enemy attacks 
at Dien Bien Phu 
in 1954 and 
TETinl968) 



Caution! French and American popular 
support for the respective war 
efforts had already begun to wane 
before these battles (especially 
in 1954). Far then from being a 
Clausewitzian center of gravity, 
"the existence of a minimum level 
of popular support for the war 
effort" had become a problematical 
CR in support of a CC - the ability 
of the gov't to continue waging war. 
In 1954 Dien Bien Phu was merely 
the last nail in the French coffin. 
While TET in 1968 was not the last 
nail in the American coffin, neither 
was it the first. If French and 
American public support ever was a 
genuine CG in either conflict, it 
ceased to be well before Dien Bien 
Phu and sometime before TET. 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



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(Discussion of 1986 version of FM 100-5 continued) 

True, extensive knowledge of an enemy's "physical and 
psychological strengths and weaknesses" is necessary to identify 
his centers of gravity, as well as his critical vulnerabilities. 
However, knowledge of his "organizational make-up," and 
"operational patterns" is likely to be more directly applicable to the 
identification of critical capabilities, critical requirements, and 
critical vulnerabilities. The "replacement of a key enemy 
commander [or] the fielding of new units" can in fact produce 
changes in an enemy's center(s) of gravity. However, a "major 
shift in [his] operational direction" is more likely to affect his 
critical capabilities and corresponding critical requirements than it 
is to change his operational center(s) of gravity - unless the change 
in "direction" is accomplished with new units. "New weaponry" 
may or may not change an enemy's center of gravity. On the one 
hand, it may merely enhance capabilities of units already identified 
as CGs. On the other hand, it may involve a totally new type of 
enemy unit, or transform the capabilities of existing (nonCG) units 
so dramatically that they are upgraded to CG status. 

Finally, the 1986 version of FM 100-5 admonished 
commanders to adopt "indirect means" to deal with enemy centers 
of gravity, because in all likelihood they will be well protected. 1 
While this is sound advice a la the CG-CC-CR-CV concept, it is 
confusing in the context of what it was meant to say in 1986 - 
which was: do not attack directly those things listed on the above 
four-and-a-half pages (examples of the source of an enemy's 
balance) because they are likely to be strongly defended; instead 
use "indirect means" to force the enemy to "expose" these things to 
attack. The irony is that most of the things listed on the above 
four-and-a-half pages are typical of objectives commonly 
targeted by indirect attacks against enemy critical 
vulnerabilities (vulnerable critical requirements). If we are not 
to attack things such as these, what are we to attack? The 
admonition cited at the beginning of this paragraph makes sense 

1 FM 100-5 Operations . HQ Department of the Army, May 1986, pp 179-180, Appendix B "Key 
Concepts of Operational Design". 



82 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 

only according to the Clausewitzian meaning of CGs: that we 
should use indirect means to degrade, destroy, or neutralize 
"vulnerable" critical requirements relative to selected enemy CGs; 
and not attempt to attack well-defended or otherwise inaccessible 
critical requirements. In the future, our enemies will present us 
with two kinds of critical vulnerabilities: those which he presents 
to us through negligence (faulty strategies and operations) and 
those which will exist (despite the enemy's best efforts) because of 
our superior national military and supporting capabilities (see 
Appendix, pages 149-152). But there are no guarantees that either 
kind of critical vulnerability will exist; which is why we should 
retain the capability to pit strength against strength successfully in 
situations where it will be required. 

(End discussion of 1986 version of FM 100-5) 




';....:.■: 



How Do Force Multipliers & Obstacles Fit into 
the CG - CC - CR - CV Concept? 

mmmmmmmmmmm mmmmmmmmmm 

"FORCE MULTIPLIERS" 

I ! are Critical Requirements in support of 
Critical Capabilities; 
They are NOT Centers of Gravity 

':v:^^•x•:■:^•:•:v^^:■:■:':•:•^:^'^:•:•^:•:•:^•:':■:•^:■:•^:^^•:•^:■:•:■:•:•^: :■:■:■:•:•:>:•:■:•:•:•:.;•:•:•:•:>: : :■:-::•:•:•:•:•:•:•:•:•:•:•:•:•:•:•:•:•:•: 



A "force multiplier" is not a center of gravity. It is instead 
an advantage derived from a stratagem; deception; or superior 
training, equipment, technology, command and control, etc., which 
enables a force to fight with an effectiveness beyond that which 
would normally be indicated by force ratios. A force multiplier, 



Perspectives on Warfighting 83 



Marine Corps University 

for example, could transform a 1-1 actual force ratio into a 3-1 
effectiveness force ratio; a 1-2 into a 2-1 ratio; or a 2-1 into a 10-1, 
etc. A laser-based targeting system and long-range main 
armament, for example, are "force multipliers" which made each 
M1A1 tank worth "X" number of Iraqi tanks during the Persian 
Gulf War. The Seventh Corps was an operational Allied CG. A 
critical capability relative to that CG was the ability of American 
tanks to shoot farther and with greater accuracy than enemy tanks 
in good and poor visibility. The MlAl's targeting system and 
armament were "critical requirements" for that capability. Force 
multipliers are "critical requirements" (or components 
thereof) which support "critical capabilities". (To avoid 
confusion, the converse is not always true; CRs are not always 
force multipliers.) 



Radar and The Battle of Britain 

British CG: RAF Fighter Command 

Critical To meet Luftwaffe attacks in a timely 

Capability: manner 

Critical Advance warning regarding the timing, 

Requirement: strength and location of Luftwaffe attacks 

Because of its critical importance, radar is sometimes 
(mistakenly) referred to as a British center of gravity during 
the Battle of Britain. More accurately, it was a vital 
component of a critical requirement supporting one of 
Fighter Command's critical capabilities - other components 
were ULTRA and forward air observers. Advance warning 
acted as a force multiplier for an outnumbered and 
beleaguered RAF Fighter Command. The fragility and 
vulnerability of the radar system made it a classic critical 
vulnerability; but not realizing its full importance, the 
Germans failed to follow up their early desultory attacks 
against it. 



84 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



Operation FORTITUDE 

and 

Operation OVERLORD 

(examples) 



Allied CG: Capable amphibious and airborne 
divisions 

Critical To deceive the Germans as to the precise 

Capability: timing, location and scale of the invasion 

Critical 

Requirement: An effective deception plan 



The FORTITUDE deception plan was a critical 
requirement in support of a critical capability deemed 
necessary by Eisenhower for the success of OVERLORD. 
FORTITUDE acted as a force multiplier by freezing 
critically important German reserve divisions in place while 
Eisenhower's assault forces seized and secured a 
beachhead. FORTITUDE itself had a vast array of 
components (dummy equipment, false radio traffic, false 
intelligence, the double-cross system of turned enemy 
agents, etc.) which contributed to its amazing success. 
Neither the plan nor the capability it reflected should be 
referred to as a center of gravity. 



» » » » » » » » » 



Perspectives on Warfighting 85 



Marine Corps University 



The P-51 Mustang 

and 

Operation OVERLORD 

(examples) 



Allied CG: Strategic and Tactical Air Forces under 

General Eisenhower's command or 
direction 

Critical To gain and maintain air supremacy over 

Capabilities: northern France (dominate the Luft- 

waffe), and simultaneously provide air 
support to Allied ground forces (attack 
ground targets) 

Critical Superior air-to-air, long-range fighter 

Requirements: planes, and capable air-to-ground attack 
aircraft 



Allied possession of a superior air-to-air long-range fighter 
plane in the P-51 Mustang was an effective force multiplier 
that made all other aircraft in the Allied strategic and tactical 
air forces supporting Operation OVERLORD far more 
effective. As did the P-47 Thunderbolt ground-attack 
aircraft, the P-51 Mustang possessed performance 
characteristics which met a critical requirement in support of 
a critical capability necessary for Allied air forces to function 
as a center of gravity in relation to OVERLORD. Examples 
of related critical requirements would be on-the-ground 
forward air controllers, a ground-to-air communication 
system, a targeting and sortie allocation system, etc. The 
P-5 1 Mustang should not be referred to as an Allied center of 
gravity for Operation OVERLORD. 



86 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



It Is More Precise 
To Say .... 



Thinking about British radar, FORTITUDE, and the P-51 
Mustang as "critical requirements" or vital components thereof 
(instead of centers of gravity) permits us to be more precise about 
the relationship between CGs and CVs - whereas the current 
doctrinal menu encourages some folks to call radar in 1940 a 
British CG and others to call it a critical vulnerability. British 
radar was a force multiplier serving as a vital component of a 
critical requirement. Because it was extremely vulnerable to 
Luftwaffe attack, it was also a critical vulnerability. It is less 
precise to say that Fighter Command (a center of gravity) was 
vulnerable, or to call Fighter Command itself a critical 
vulnerability. It is more precise to say that the vulnerability of 
the radar system - if fully exploited by the Luftwaffe - could 
have made the pilots and machines of Fighter Command much 
less effective. 



CRITICAL OBSTACLES 

(Geographical, Topographical, Terrain and 

Meteorological Features) 1 

- Though Less Easily Dismissed - 

Are Also NOT Centers of Gravity 



The same goes for critical obstacles, which are closely 
related to "force multipliers". Both enable fewer forces to 
accomplish a task or mission than would otherwise be the case; 

1 Geographical: Of or relating to geography. Concerning the topography of a specific region. 
Topography: The physical features of a place or region. 
Terrain: The physical character of land : topography. 

Meteorological: Atmospheric phenomena, esp. weather and weather conditions. [Climatical] 
[ W ebster's II .] 



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both can be powerful force effectiveness enhancers; neither are 
centers of gravity. (That is not to say that a CG cannot produce a 
force multiplier effect - such as Napoleon's appearance on the field 
of battle galvanizing French troops, or overwhelming air support 
for advancing ground forces.) 

A Mountain Rang e. Let's take the case of a rugged 
mountain range which is impassable except via two long, narrow 
passes. A defending force of only four high-quality, appropriately- 
equipped divisions stands a good chance of holding off an 
attacking force three times its number. The defenders have two 
key advantages: (1) defending on "good ground," and (2) in all 
likelihood only two of the attacking divisions can be used 
simultaneously. This situation "enhances" the effectiveness of the 
four defending divisions well beyond what it would be in ordinary 
open ground. But suppose three of the attacker's divisions are 
air-assault divisions, akin to the 101st Air- Assault Division, and 
another is an airborne division - with the capability to fly over the 
mountain range and operate in the enemy's undefended rear area. 
Are the narrow mountain passes still an obstacle for the attacker, or 
a death-trap for the defender? 

A Wide Desert . A wide desert can have a similar effect. 
Having ten armored divisions to pit against the defender's three 
loses its pizzazz if the ten have to cross a 400-mile wide desert 
with a two-division logistical support system (i.e., to get them 
across the desert and to support them on the far side in sustained 
combat operations). In this case the desert hugely enhances the 
effectiveness of the three defending divisions. But suppose the 
attacker has a ten-division logistics capability, total air supremacy, 
and the ability to conceal/mask his route(s) of approach across the 
desert. Is that desert an obstacle enhancing the effectiveness of the 
defenders, or is it a highway offering the attacker multiple avenues 
for surprise attack? 

The two examples above show that an obstacle can in some 
cases be a double-edged sword depending on the capabilities of the 
combatants. We should not focus on obstacles being centers of 



88 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



gravity; we should instead focus on critical capabilities and critical 
requirements as they are driven or influenced by obstacles. 



The English Channel in World War II 

The English Channel is commonly viewed as one of the 
greatest geographical or topographical obstacles in modern 
history. It is credited with saving Great Britain from invasion in 
1940, following the sudden and unexpected collapse of the French 
Army. In 1942 and 1943, it gave Hitler a chance to economize on 
forces in the West so he could make maximum efforts in the East. 
In 1944, it gave a second-rate German garrison in France a chance 
to defeat the impressively superior Allied military power in 
England. 

As an Obstacle . In 1944 two-thirds of the German garrison 
in France defending the "Atlantic Wall" consisted of second and 
third-rate divisions. German naval and air power was minimal. 
Nevertheless, the German defenders had two huge advantages: (1) 
General Eisenhower could conduct a D-Day amphibious assault 
with only a fraction of his available divisions, and (2) the limited 
number of suitable invasion beaches were defended by German 
units heavily dug in with plenty of firepower and backed by 
powerful panzer reserves. (The Germans had a third advantage in 
that any opposed amphibious assault is inherently risky business.) 
Although D-Day, 6 June 1944, was an overwhelming Allied 
success, that result should not obscure the fact that to achieve an 
acceptable level of risk required monumental planning, 
preparation, and air-sea-land forces. In a normal campaign or 
operation across open ground, the German forces in France could 
have been defeated handily with less than half the effort. This 
summary of German advantages supports those who would call the 
English Channel a German CG (or words to that effect). 

As a Double-edged Obstacle, or even a Highway . On the 
other hand, the Channel also gave the Allies some important 
advantages in 1944. It was a huge barrier to German intelligence; 



Perspectives on Warfighting 89 



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in many cases the Germans saw only what the Allies wanted them 
to see. Secondly, the world's oceans and seas offer sea worthy 
vessels an expanse of highways. Was a task force departing 
Southampton bound for Brest, Cherbourg, Le Havre, or Calais 
(assuming that the Germans even spotted it)? The Channel thus 
offered a mixed bag of pluses and minuses for both sides. But 
what if General Eisenhower had been able to get his hands 
early and easily on enough landing craft to conduct an 
amphibious assault with thirty divisions simultaneously? How 
would that alteration have affected the relationship between the 
Channel and German power? In all likelihood, far fewer folks 
would call the Channel a German CG (or words to that effect), 
because it would no longer have functioned as a force effectiveness 
enhancer for the Germans; their coastal defense formations and 
mobile reserves being unable to cope with what Eisenhower could 
have thrown at them on D-Day. That altered situation would have 
further magnified the negative consequences of having to defend 
the long coastline from Holland to Spain; Hitler's determination to 
defend the entire length of the French Channel coast would then 
have become a massive German strategic and operational liability. 1 

The foregoing is offered as an admonition to military 
planners and commanders to focus strictly and keenly on enemy 
and friendly "critical capabilities" and "critical requirements" as 
they are driven or influenced by obstacles , and to refrain from 
identifying an obstacle itself as an enemy or friendly CG. To do 
otherwise might lock a commander and his staff into an early 
mindset precluding them from realizing the full range of possible 
advantages and stratagems. Secondly, more often than not a good 
commander and his staff will devise a scheme which takes 
advantage of a barrier, using it as a mask, shield, or highway, or 
turning the enemy's preoccupation with defending it into his 
disadvantage. At that moment they will see the obstacle in a 
different light, and cease thinking of it, and referring to it, as an 
enemy center of gravity. 



It can be argued that it was anyway, even in the actual historical event. 



90 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



In Conclusion 



mm 



As will be shown in chapter 5, current Joint and Service 
doctrinal manuals/publications still contain significant variations 
regarding the application of "centers of gravity" and "critical 
vulnerabilities" as concepts critical to the formulation and 
discussion of strategy and operations. The CG-CC-CR-CV concept 
will enable the DOD community to think about, express, and 
discuss these concepts in a more precise and consistent manner. 

According to the CG-CC-CR-CV construct, phenomenon 
traditionally viewed as "force multipliers" are not CGs or 
quasi-CGs; they are "critical requirements" in support of "critical 
capabilities" associated with CGs. Obstacles, too, are nol CGs or 
quasi-CGs; instead the focus and emphasis should be on "critical 
capabilities" and "critical requirements" as they are driven or 
influenced by obstacles. 



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92 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



Chapter 5 



Did You Know that Saddam Hussein 

and the Republican Guard 

were NOT Centers of Gravity? 

The (Still) Confused and Contradictory 

State of Current Doctrine, 

and How It Could Be Revised 



The good news is that all of the current Service 
manuals/publications have adopted the same (or close to the same) 
definition of "centers of gravity". Now the bad news. To begin 
with, even tossing aside the CG-CC-CR-CV concept, the current 
Joint/Service definition is a remarkably curious and confusing 
oddity. According to this definition, Saddam Hussein and the 
Republican Guard; Ho Chi Minh and the North Vietnamese 
Regular Army; Emperor Hirohito, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, 
and the Imperial Japanese Navy; and General Robert E. Lee and 
the Army of Northern Virginia were noi moral or physical centers 
of gravity. 

Joint Pub 3-0 : "those characteristics, capabilities, or 
locations from which a military force derives its freedom 
of action, physical strength, or will to fight. l 

Joint Pub 1-02 : "Those characteristics, capabilities, or 
localities from which a military force derives its freedom 
of action, physical strength, or will to fight." 2 

1 Joint Pub 3-0, Doctrine for Joint Operations . 1 February 1995, p 111-20. 

2 Joint Pub 1-02, Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms . 23 March 
1994, p 63. 



Perspectives on Warfighting 93 



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Army FM 100-5 : "that characteristic, capability, or loca- 
tion from which enemy and friendly forces derive their 
freedom of action, physical strength, or will to fight. * 

Naval Doctrine Publication 1 - Naval Warfare : "That 
characteristic, capability, or location from which enemy 
and friendly forces derive their freedom of action, 
physical strength, or will to fight." 2 

Air Force Doctrine Document Number 1 (AFDD-n 
(Draft) (replacing AFM 1-1): contains the same definition 
of "center of gravity" as Joint Pub 1-02, 23 March 1994, 
except that the word "military" is deleted to make an 
appropriate philosophical point that not all forces in war 
are "military" forces. 3 

This is not exactly what the term "centers of gravity" meant to 
folks such as Generals Norman Schwarzkopf, Colin Powell, 
William Westmoreland, Douglas Mac Arthur, and Ulysses S. Grant, 
or to the authors of a few hundred classics on modern military 
history, not to mention Carl von Clausewitz. This alone is reason 
enough to modify the new definition, even laying aside the 
CG-CC-CR-CV concept. Even greater modifications will be 
required should the DOD community accept the CG-CC-CR-CV 
concept. Furthermore, in addition to merely stating this definition, 
all of the Joint/Service doctrine manuals/publications provide 
accompanying texts elaborating on the concept of centers of 
gravity. These, too, will have to be modified - some seriously so. 
Finally, regardless of whether it accepts or rejects the 
CG-CC-CR-CV concept, at a minimum the DOD community 
needs to resolve the wide range of conflicting interpretations on 
centers of gravity and critical vulnerabilities which still exist in 
these "elaborating texts" - despite the acceptance (willingly or 
otherwise) of a standard definition of centers of gravity. 

1 FM 100-5 Operations . HQ Department of the Army, June 1993, p 6-7. 

2 Naval Doctrine Publication 1 - Naval Warfare . 28 March 1994, p 72. 

3 16 February 1996 phone conversation between Colonel Lawrence B. Wilkerson (USA), Deputy 
Director, Marine Corps War College and the Chief, Doctrine Division, Directorate of Plans, Office 
of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Operations, United States Air Force. 



94 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



(Even Laying Aside the CG-CC-CR-CV Concept) 

The Current Joint Definition is 

A Curious Oddity 






: Joint Pub 3-0 : "those characteristics, capabilities, or locations 
jfrom which a military force derives its freedom of action, 
I physical strength, or will to fight." 



Even if we lay aside the CG-CC-CR-CV concept, the 
current Joint definition of centers of gravity has a curious built-in 
oddity: by this definition a military force (and by implication 
any other force, moral or physical) can never be a CG. (Have I 
read the words correctly?) That means that neither Saddam 
Hussein nor the Republican Guard, nor any other Iraqi military 
force, were Iraqi centers of gravity during the late Persian Gulf 
War(?!). Yet, any one of us can lay our hands on official military 
plans, reports, and briefings which have stated otherwise. Not to 
mention the scores of professional military analysts nightly on 
television, or daily and weekly in the national news media. Nor 
the (seemingly) hundreds of lectures and discussions we have all 
heard on the war between then and now. Not only is the current 
Joint/Service definition of centers of gravity not Clausewitzian, it 
is at odds with the way in which the American academic and 
professional military communities have understood and applied the 
term since I don't know when (with the recent exception, of course, 
of FMFM 1). That phenomenon is remarkable. It is also quite 
unnecessary, even without CG-CC-CR-CV. 

A partial explanation (or defense) of Joint Pub 3-0 is that 
perhaps its definition of centers of gravity is meant to apply only 
to the operational level of war and below - since the definition is 
followed immediately by: "At the strategic level, centers of 
gravity might include a military force ... Hl A few short 

1 Joint Pub 3-0, Doctrine for Joint Operations . 1 February 1995, p xi, and Joint Doctrine 
Capstone and Keystone Primer . 25 Mav 1995. p 31. (Emphasis added.) 



Perspectives on Warfighting 95 



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paragraphs later, we again see: "For example, if the center of 
gravity is a large enemy force ... " l But again, what about all 
those folks who called the Republican Guard an Iraqi operational 
CG? It also begs the question: Why have different definitions of 
centers of gravity for separate levels of war? And what is the 
definition for the strategic level? Fortunately, the second question 
can be easily dismissed because there doesn't need to be, nor 
should there be, two separate definitions. The definition of "center 
of gravity" should be the same for all levels of war. To do 
otherwise is a self-inflicted wound which serves only to perpetuate 
confusion about the nature and characteristics of CGs at all levels 
of war. 



1 

j Revising the Current Joint/Service Manuals 

| to Conform with the CG-CC-CR-CV Concept 

and 

Eliminate Contradictory Interpretations 

Regarding 

| Centers of Gravity and Critical Vulnerabilities 



The following pages will reprint relevant passages from each of the 
Joint/Service doctrine manuals/publications in full and show how 
each passage could be revised to bring it into conformity with the 
CG-CC-CR-CV concept and/or to eliminate confusion between 
centers of gravity and critical vulnerabilities. For the convenience 
of the reader, the format will be as indicated on the following page: 



» » » » » » » » » 



Joint Pub 3-0, Doctrine for Joint Operations . 1 February 1995, p 111-21. (Emphasis added.) 



96 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



lii ii i i i'fwwmin ii ir i i i i i iwiii ii 



Format 
for the remainder of Chapter 5 



Left-side pages 


Right-side pages 


(even-numbered pages): 


(odd-numbered pages): 


♦ Relevant passages reprinted 


How each paragraph could be 


in full. 


revised to bring it into 




conformity with the 


♦ All emphasis in the original 


CG-CC-CR-CV concept, 


texts is indicated by italic type. 


and/or to eliminate confusion 




between centers of gravity 


♦ Passages which require 


and critical vulnerabilities. 


significant revision are indicated 




by [brackets and bold type]. 




♦ Note: italic bold type indicates 




both of the above. 




♦ For easy reference, paragraphs 




are labeled [A] thru [G]. 





» » » » » » » » » 



Perspectives on Warfighting 



97 



Marine Corps University 

Joint Puh 3-0 (As Is): 

[A] ["Centers of Gravity. The essence of operational art lies 
in being able to mass effects against the enemy's sources of 
power in order to destroy or neutralize them."] ] 

" j. Centers of Gravity 1 



[B] "• [Centers of gravity are the foundation of capability] - 
what Clausewitz called 'the hub of all power and movement, on 
which everything depends . . . ['the point at which all our 
energies should be directed.'] [They are those 

characteristics, capabilities, or locations from which a 
military force derives its freedom of action, physical strength, 
or will to fight] At the strategic level, centers of gravity might 
include a military force, an alliance, national will or public 
support, [a set of critical capabilities or functions,] or 
national strategy itself. 



[C] "• The [centers of gravity] concept is useful as an analytical 
tool, while designing campaigns and operations to assist 
commanders and staffs in analyzing friendly as well as enemy 
sources of strength as well as weaknesses and vulnerabilities. 
Analysis of [centers of gravity,] both enemy and friendly, is a 
continuous process throughout an operation. 



1 Joint Pub 3-0, Doctrine for Joint Operations . 1 February 1995, p xi, and Joint Doctrine Capstone 
an<j Keystone Primer, 25 May 1995, p 31. 

2 Joint Pub 3-0, Doctrine for Joint Operations . 1 February 1995, p 111-20. 



98 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 

Joint Pub 3-0 (Revised a la CG-CC-CR-CV): 

[A] Centers of Gravity and Critical Vulnerabilities. The essence 
of operational art lies in being able to mass effects against an 
appropriate combination of enemy CGs or CRs (preferably 
vulnerable CRs) in order to neutralize, weaken, or destroy CGs 
in a cost effective manner. 

j. Centers of Gravity and Critical Vulnerabilities 

[B] • Centers of gravity are agents and/or sources of moral or 
physical strength, power, and resistance - what Clausewitz 
called 'the hub of all power and movement, on which 
everything depends ... the point at which all our energies 
should be directed.' At the strategic level, centers of gravity 
might include a military force, an alliance, a political or 
military leader, or national will. All CGs have inherent 
"critical capabilities" enabling them to function as CGs. In 
turn, all critical capabilities have essential "critical 
requirements" necessary for the realization of those 
capabilities. "Critical Vulnerabilities" are those critical 
requirements or components thereof which are deficient, or 
vulnerable to neutralization, interdiction or attack 
(moral/physical harm) in a manner achieving decisive or 
significant results, disproportional to the military resources 
applied. 



[C] • The concept of centers of gravity and critical vulnerabilities 
is useful as an analytical tool while designing campaigns and 
operations to assist commanders and staffs in analyzing 
friendly as well as enemy sources of strength as well as 
weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Analysis of centers of gravity 
and critical vulnerabilities, both enemy and friendly, is a 
continuous process throughout an operation. 



Perspectives on Warfighting 99 



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Joint Pub 3-0 (As Is): 

(continued) 

[D] "• The essence of operational art lies in being able to mass 
effects against the enemy's sources of power in order to destroy 
or neutralize them. In theory, destruction or neutralization of 
enemy centers of gravity is the most direct path to victory. 
However, centers of gravity can change during the course of an 
operation, and, at any given time, centers of gravity may not be 
apparent or readily discernible. [For example, the center of 
gravity might concern the mass of enemy units, but that 
mass might not yet be formed. In such cases, determining 
the absence of a center of gravity and keeping it from 
forming could be as important as defining it.] 

[E] "• Identification of [enemy centers of gravity] requires 
detailed knowledge and understanding of how opponents 
organize, fight, make decisions, and their physical and 
psychological strengths and weaknesses. JFCs [Joint Force 
Commanders] and their subordinates should be alert to 
circumstances that may cause centers of gravity to change and 
adjust friendly operations accordingly. 



[F] "• [Enemy centers of gravity will frequently be well 
protected,] making direct attack difficult and costly. This 
situation may require joint operations that result in indirect 
attacks [ ] until conditions are established that permit 
successful direct attacks. 

[G] "• It is also important to identify friendly [centers of gravity] 
so that they can be protected. [Long sea and air LOCs from 
CONUS or supporting theaters can represent a center of 
gravity. National will can also be a center of gravity, as it 
was for the United States during the Vietnam and Persian 
GulfWars.l 



100 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 

Joint Pub 3-0 (Revised a la CG-CC-CR-CV): 

(continued) 

[D] & [E] • The essence of operational art lies in being able to 
mass effects against an appropriate combination of enemy CGs 
or CRs (preferably vulnerable CRs) in order to neutralize, 
weaken, or destroy CGs in a cost effective manner. 
Identification of enemy centers of gravity and critical 
vulnerabilities requires knowledge and understanding of how 
opponents organize, fight, make decisions, and their physical 
and psychological strengths and weaknesses. JFCs and their 
subordinates should be alert to circumstances that may cause 
centers of gravity and critical vulnerabilities to change and 
adjust friendly operations accordingly. At any given time 
during the course of an operation, critical capabilities and 
associated critical requirements can change; or certain critical 
capabilities and requirements may not yet exist. For example, 
an enemy critical capability might be contingent upon his 
forces being massed (and ipso facto upon his ability to mass 
them). If that mass is not yet formed, keeping it from being 
realized could be vitally important. 



[F] (Incorporated into H, F & D below.) 



[G] • It is also important to protect friendly critical capabilities and 
critical requirements to prevent the latter from becoming 
critical vulnerabilities. Examples can be long sea and air LOCs 
from CONUS or supporting theaters, or public opinion when it 
is not an outright CG (as was the case for the United States 
during the latter years of the Vietnam War). In cases when 
public support is not a CG, friendly strategy and operations (in 
all but the briefest of affairs) will have to be conceived and 
conducted in such a manner as to preserve the level of public 
support which does exist. 



Perspectives on Warfighting 101 



Marine Corps University 

Joint Pub 3-0 (As Is): 

(continued) 

[H] "k. Direct versus Indirect. [To the extent possible, JFCs 
attack enemy centers of gravity directly. Where direct 
attack means attacking into an opponent's strength, JFCs 
should seek an indirect approach.] For example, if the center 
of gravity is a large enemy force, the joint force may attack it 
indirectly by isolating it from its C2, severing its LOCs 
(including resupply), and defeating or degrading its air defense 
and indirect fire capability. [When vulnerable, the enemy 
force can be attacked directly by appropriate elements of the 
joint force.] In this way, JFCs will employ a synchronized 
combination of operations to expose and attack enemy centers 
of gravity through weak or vulnerable points - seams, flanks, 
specific forces or military capabilities, rear areas, and even 
military morale and public opinion and support." 1 



General Commentary on Joint Pub 3-0 

The definition of "centers of gravity" (paragraph B) 
requires modification for it to be in harmony with 
Clausewitz, as do the last sentence in paragraph D and the 
second sentence in paragraph G. Paragraph F merely states 
the obvious - that centers of gravity "will frequently be 
well protected," and recommends in such cases (as does H 
also) the adoption of an indirect approach - a concept made 
popular by Sir Basil Liddell Hart after World War I. Using 
an indirect approach (a circuitous or devious route or a sur- 

(continued in box on next page) 



Joint Pub 3-0, Doctrine for Joint Operations . 1 February 1995, pp 111-20 and 111-21. 



102 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 

Joint Pub 3-0 (Revised a la CG-CC-CR-CV): 

(continued) 

[H] [F] & [D] k. Direct versus Indirect. In theory, direct attacks 
against enemy centers of gravity resulting in their 
neutralization or destruction is the most direct path to victory ~ 
if it can be done in a prudent manner (as defined by military 
and political dynamics of the moment). Where direct attacks 
against enemy CGs mean attacking into an opponent's strength, 
JFCs should seek an indirect approach until conditions are 
established that permit successful direct attacks. For example, 
if the center of gravity is a large enemy force, the joint force 
may attack it indirectly by isolating it from its C2, severing its 
LOCs (including resupply), and defeating or degrading its air 
defense and indirect fire capability. In this way, JFCs will 
employ a synchronized combination of operations to weaken 
enemy centers of gravity indirectly by attacking traditional 
weaknesses, such as seams and flanks, and critical 
requirements which are sufficiently vulnerable: LOCs, rear 
area logistics, C2, specific forces or military systems, and even 
military morale and public opinion. 



surprise stratagem) is the same or closely akin to exploiting 
a critical vulnerability (a la FMFM 1 Warfighting ). The 
concept of indirect strategies is not inconsistent with the 
Clausewitzian concept of CGs being sources of strength, 
power, and resistance. To the contrary, Liddell Hart so 
detested the practice of pitting "strength against strength" 
or "CG against CG," as was commonplace in World War I, 
that he promoted the "Indirect Approach" as a superior 
alternative. Had Liddell Hart thought of, or seen, the term 
"critical vulnerability," he would surely have fallen in love 
with it. 



Perspectives on Warfighting 103 



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Joint Pub 1 (As Is): 



[A] "... The challenge for joint force commanders normally is not 
to amass more data but to extract and organize the knowledge 
most useful for overcoming the enemy. [A key concept that 
integrates intelligence and operations is centers of gravity, a 
term first applied in the military context by Clausewitz to 
describe 'the hub of all power and movement, on which 
everything depends.' Joint doctrine defines centers of 
gravity as: 'Those characteristics, capabilities, or localities 
from which a military force derives its freedom of action, 
physical strength, or will to fight."] l 



[B] [ ] (See Revised) 



» » » » » » » » » 



1 Joint Pub 1, Joint Warfare of the Armed Forces of the United States . 10 January 1995, pp III-8 
and III-9. 



104 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 

Joint Pub 1 (Revised a la CG-CC-CR-CV): 



[A] ... The challenge for joint force commanders normally is not 
to amass more data but to extract and organize the knowledge 
most useful for overcoming the enemy. Two key concepts that 
integrate intelligence and operations are "centers of gravity" 
and "critical vulnerabilities". Centers of gravity are sources 
and/or agents of moral or physical strength, power, and 
resistance at a given level of war. Examples at the strategic 
level can be national leaders, a strong-willed national 
population (the people), a military service or component of it, 
strong financial resources, or a critical manufacturing resource. 
At the lower levels common examples are a military force or 
component of it, or a skilled and inspirational military 
commander. 



[B] Centers of gravity and critical vulnerabilities are linked by 
"critical capabilities" and "critical requirements". Critical 
capabilities are the inherent abilities which enable a center of 
gravity to function as such. To be an effective center of gravity, 
a national leader, for example, must have the ability to stay 
alive, stay informed, communicate with government officials 
and senior military leaders, and remain influential. A national 
defense industrial base requires the ability to obtain essential 
physical resources, transport them to manufacturing centers, 
process them into effective weapons and essential supporting 
products, and transport those weapons and products to the 
armed forces. At the lower levels of war an armored force 
must have the ability to move, shoot, and kill. The critical 
capabilities for a military commander identified as a center of 
gravity are similar to those of a national leader. 



Perspectives on Warfighting 105 



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Joint Pub 1 (As Is) 

(continued) 



[C] [ ] (See Revised) 



» » » » » » » » » 



106 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 

Joint Pub 1 (Revised a la CG-CC-CR-CV): 

(continued) 

[C] All critical capabilities require essential conditions, resources 
and means to make them fully operative. These are called 
"critical requirements". An armored force requires POL and a 
flexible logistics system. Elite units require esprit de corps. 
Military commanders need intelligence and the means to 
communicate. We examine critical requirements to discover 
enemy critical vulnerabilities - actual or potential - which we 
can exploit to undermine, neutralize and/or defeat his center(s) 
of gravity. Critical Vulnerabilities are those critical 
requirements or components thereof which are deficient, or 
vulnerable to neutralization, interdiction or attack 
(moral/physical harm) in a manner achieving decisive or 
significant results, disproportional to the military resources 
applied. Within the context of pitting friendly strengths 
against enemy weaknesses, commanders will understandably 
want to focus their efforts against those objects which will do 
the most decisive damage to the enemy's ability to resist. But 
in selecting those objects we must compare their degree of 
criticality with their degree of vulnerability and to balance 
both against our capabilities. Friendly capabilities to extend 
offensive efforts throughout the theater, including deep 
penetrations of enemy territory, can increase the number of 
enemy critical vulnerabilities. 



Perspectives on War fighting 107 



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Joint Pub 1 (As Is): 

(continued) 

[D] "[Finding and attacking enemy centers of gravity] is a 
singularly important concept. [Rather than attack peripheral 
enemy vulnerabilities, attacking centers of gravity means 
concentrating against capabilities whose destruction or 
overthrow will yield military success. Though providing an 
essential focus for all efforts, attacking centers of gravity is 
often not easy. Teeling the onion/ that is, progressively 
first defeating enemy measures undertaken to defend 
centers of gravity, may be required to expose centers of 
gravity to attack, both at the strategic and operational 
levels.] Actions to extend offensive efforts throughout the 
theater, including deep penetrations of enemy territory, [can 
increase the vulnerability of enemy centers of gravity]. 

[E] "This concept of centers of gravity [ ] helps joint force 
commanders focus their intelligence requirements (including 
the requirement to identify friendly centers of gravity [ ] that 
must be protected from enemy attack). Intelligence should be 
timely, objective, responsive, complete, accurate, and relevant. 
(Joint Pub 2-0, "Doctrine for Intelligence Support to Joint 
Operations.") It should aid the identification of centers of 
gravity and suggest how they might most effectively be dealt 
with. Beyond that, however, intelligence should provide the 
capability to verify which desired military effects have or have 
not been achieved and generally support the commander's 
situational awareness in what will often by a dynamic, 
fast-moving, and confusing (fog of war) situation. 



108 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 

Joint Pub 1 (Revised a la CG-CC-CR-CV): 

(continued) 

[D] & [E] 

Identifying enemy centers of gravity and critical 
vulnerabilities is a singularly important concept which helps 
joint force commanders focus their intelligence requirements 
(including the requirement to identify friendly centers of 
gravity and critical vulnerabilities that must be protected from 
enemy attack). Intelligence should be timely, objective, 
responsive, complete, accurate, and relevant. (Joint Pub 2-0, 
"Doctrine for Intelligence Support to Joint Operations.") It 
should aid the identification of enemy centers of gravity and 
suggest how they might most effectively be dealt with. 
Beyond that, however, intelligence should provide the 
capability to verify which desired military effects have or have 
not been achieved and generally support the commander's 
situational awareness in what will often by a dynamic, 
fast-moving, and confusing (fog of war) situation. 



» » » » » » » » » 



Perspectives on Warfighting 109 



Marine Corps University 

Joint Pub 1 (As Is): 

(continued) 

[F] " • Knowing oneself and the enemy allows employment of 
friendly strength against the enemy's weaknesses and 
avoids exposing friendly weaknesses to the enemy 
strengths. This fundamental and familiar precept is 
designed to preserve the competitive advantage for one's 
own forces. It suggests a strategy of indirection - avoiding 
head-on attacks when enveloping movements, for 
example, will better capitalize on one's strengths and 
enemy weaknesses.... nl 

(end of Joint Pub 1 "As Is" section) 



General Commentary on Joint Pub 1 : 

"A? Is" Paragraph : 

[A] Better to emphasize right up front the "two" 
concepts of centers gravity and critical vulnerabilities, 
instead of just the single concept of centers of gravity. 

[D] "Finding and attacking enemy centers of gravity" is 
not the point — finding and attacking enemy critical 
vulnerabilities is the point. The 'peeling the onion' analogy 
is too general. It could mean attacking centers of gravity 
via enemy critical vulnerabilities; or it could mean applying 
friendly strengths against strong enemy defensive measures 
protecting a center of gravity in a series of attrition-type 
operations/tactics until the center of gravity becomes 
'unprotected' and exposed to direct attack. The latter 
practice is clearly contrary to the concept of critical 
vulnerabilities; but it may nevertheless be necessary where 

(continued in box on next page) 



1 Joint Pub 1, Joint Warfare of the Armed Forces of the United States. 10 January 1995, pp III-8 
and III-9. 



110 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 

Joint Pub 1 (Revised a la CG-CC-CR-CV): 

(continued) 

[F] • Knowing oneself and the enemy allows employment of 
friendly strength against the enemy's weaknesses and avoids 
exposing friendly weaknesses to the enemy strengths. This 
fundamental and familiar precept is designed to preserve the 
competitive advantage for one's own forces. It suggests a 
strategy of indirection - avoiding head-on attacks when 
enveloping movements, for example, will better capitalize on 
one's strengths and enemy weaknesses.... 

(end of Joint Pub 1 "As Revised" section) 



there are no obvious critical vulnerabilities. Therefore, it 
will always be left to the judgment of the commander how 
best to defeat an enemy center of gravity: whether 
indirectly via enemy critical vulnerabilities, or 
semi-indirectly via the application of strength against 
strong enemy defensive measures protecting a center of 
gravity; or by utilizing overwhelming friendly strength in a 
straight-on direct attack against an enemy center of gravity. 

[E] Again, it is not just the concept of centers of 
gravity, but also that of critical vulnerabilities (friendly and 
enemy) which "helps joint force commanders focus their 
intelligence requirements ...." 

[F] Knowing the enemy - everything that makes him 
tick (his national history, society, culture, and psychology, 
in addition to orders of battle statistics and other military 
data) - and yourself is the first principle of war at the 
strategic level ("capital W" war) according to the 
"Principles of War (W/w)" outlined on pages 140-141. 
Failure regarding this principle generally means mission 
failure, whether at the strategic, operational, or tactical 
level of war. 



Perspectives on Warftghting 111 



Marine Corps University 

Joint Pub 1-02 

(As Is): 

["centers of gravity - Those characteristics, capabilities, or 
localities from which a military force derives its freedom of 
action, physical strength, or will to fight. 11 ] * 



» » » » » » » » » 



1 Joint Pub 1-02, Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms . 23 March 
1994, p 63. 



112 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



Joint Puht -02 
(Revised a la CG-CC-CR-CV): 



Centers of Gravity: 

Agents and/or sources of moral or physical strength, power, 
and resistance. 

Critical Capabilities: 

Inherent abilities enabling a Center of Gravity to function as 
such. 

Critical Requirements: 

Essential conditions, resources and means for a Critical 
Capability to be fully operative. 

Critical Vulnerabilities: 

Critical Requirements or components thereof which are 
deficient, or vulnerable to neutralization, interdiction or attack 
(moral/physical harm) in a manner achieving decisive or 
significant results, disproportional to the military resources 
applied. 



» » » » » » » » » 



Perspectives on War fighting 113 



Marine Corps University 

Army FM 100-5 

(As Is): 

"[Center of Gravity.] The center of gravity [is the hub of all 
power and movement upon which everything depends. It is 
that characteristic, capability, or location from which 
enemy and friendly forces derive their freedom of action, 
physical strength, or will to fight.] Several traditional 
examples of a potential center of gravity include the [mass of 
the] enemy army, [the enemy's battle command structure,] 
public opinion, national will, and an alliance or coalition 
structure. The concept of [a center of gravity] is useful as an 
analytical tool to cause the joint commander and his staff to 
think about their own and the enemy's sources of strength [ ] 
as they design the campaign and determine its objectives." l 



General Commentary on FM 100-5 : 

At the strategic level, the enemy "army" or a portion of 
it is the CG; whereas the "massing" of the army is a critical 
requirement to achieve a specific critical capability. (See 
above page 9, "A Word of Caution Regarding 'Mass' Since 
Clausewitz' Day".) At the operational level, a "mass" of 
forces could be a CG. The "enemy's battle command 
structure," however, should be thought of as a critical 
requirement in support of a critical capability, instead of 
being a CG - it might in fact be a critical vulnerability. The 

(continued in box on next page) 



FM 100-5 Operations . HQ Department of the Army, June 1993, p 6-7. 



114 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 

i Arm y FM 100-5 

(Revised a la CG-CC-CR-CV): 

Centers of Gravity and Critical Vulnerabilities . Centers of gravity 
are agents and/or sources of moral or physical strength, power, 
and resistance. Several traditional examples of a potential 
center of gravity include an enemy army or air force (or 
component thereof at lower levels of war) national will, an 
alliance, or a coalition. CGs at all levels of war have inherent 
"critical capabilities" enabling them to function as CGs. In 
turn, all critical capabilities have essential "critical 
requirements" necessary for the realization of those 
capabilities. "Critical Vulnerabilities" are those critical 
requirements or components thereof which are deficient, or 
vulnerable to neutralization, interdiction or attack 
(moral/physical harm) in a manner achieving decisive or 
significant results, disproportional to the military resources 
applied. The concept of centers of gravity and critical 
vulnerabilities is useful as an analytical tool to cause the joint 
commander and his staff to think about their own and the 
enemy's sources of strength and weakness as they design the 
campaign and determine its objectives. 



ability to exercise effective C2 at the operational and 
tactical levels of war is a critical capability; an effective 
battle command structure is merely an associated critical 
requirement enabling that capability to be realized. (That 
does not alter its importance.) The ability of an alliance or 
coalition to maintain itself is a critical capability; a 
corresponding critical requirement is the existence of a 
strong community of interest among the alliance or 
coalition members. The "structure" of an alliance can be a 
CG. 



Perspectives on Warfighting 115 



Marine Corps University 



Air Force Doctrine Document Number 1 
f AFDD-1 UDraftt 

(As Is): 



The current draft of AFDD-1 (replacing AFM 1-1) 
contains the same definition of "center of gravity" as Joint Pub 
1-02, 23 March 1994, except that the word "military" is deleted to 
make an appropriate philosophical point that not all forces in war 
are "military" forces. AFDD-1 (Draft) stipulates that centers of 
gravity exist at all levels of war, and that almost always multiple 
CGs exist at any particular level of war. l 



General Commentary on AFDD-1 (Draft): 

The deletion of the word "military" before "force" is 
most appropriate, since CGs can be forces other than 
"military" forces. AFDD-1 (Draft) also stipulates correctly 
that CGs exist at all levels of war. The AFDD-1 (Draft) 
stipulation that multiple CGs "almost always" exist at any 
particular level of war is based on the current Joint/Service 
definition. Under the CG-CC-CR-CV concept, however, it 
would be more appropriate to say that multiple CGs may 
exist at any particular level. This is simply because CGs 
are fewer and more significant entities a la CG-CC-CR-CV 
than is the case with Joint Pub 3-0 . 



1 16 February 1996 phone conversation between Colonel Lawrence B. Wilkerson (USA), Deputy 
Director, Marine Corps War College and the Chief, Doctrine Division, Directorate of Plans, Office 
of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Operations, United States Air Force. 



116 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



Air Force Doctrine Document Number 1 
(AFDD-1) ( Dr a f t) 

(Revised a la CG-CC-CR-CV): 



Centers of Gravity and Critical Vulnerabilities . Centers of 
gravity are agents and/or sources of moral or physical strength, 
power, and resistance. Several traditional examples of a potential 
center of gravity include an enemy army or air force or component 
thereof at lower levels of war) national will, or an alliance. CGs at 
all levels of war have inherent "critical capabilities" enabling them 
to function as CGs. In turn, all critical capabilities have essential 
"critical requirements" necessary for the realization of those 
capabilities. "Critical Vulnerabilities" are those critical require- 
ments or components thereof which are deficient, or vulnerable to 
neutralization, interdiction or attack (moral/physical harm) in a 
manner achieving decisive or significant results, disproportional to 
the military resources applied. 



» » » » » » » » » 



Perspectives on Warfighting 111 



Marine Corps University 

Naval Doctrine Publ ication 1 - Naval Warfare 

(As Is): 

[A] ["Center of Gravity: That characteristic, capability, or 
location from which enemy and friendly forces derive their 
freedom of action, physical strength, or will to fight."] l 



"Center[ ] of Gravity and Critical Vulnerability] 2 

[B] "The center of gravity is something the enemy must have to 
continue military operations — a source of his strength, [but 
not necessarily strong or a strength in itself.] [There can 
only be one center of gravity.] Once identified, we focus all 
aspects of our military, economic, diplomatic, and political 
strengths against [it.] [As an example, a lengthy resupply 
line supporting forces engaged at a distance from the home 
front could be an enemy's center of gravity. The resupply 
line is something the enemy must have - a source of 
strength - but not necessarily capable of protecting itself. 
Opportunities to access and destroy a center of gravity are 
called critical vulnerabilities.] To deliver a decisive blow to 
the enemy's center of gravity, we must strike at objectives 
affecting the center of gravity that are both critical to the 
enemy's ability to fight and vulnerable to our offensive actions. 
If the object of a strike is not critical - essential to the enemy's 
ability to stay in the fight - the best result we can achieve is 
some reduction in the enemy's strength. Similarly, if the object 
of a strike is not vulnerable to attack by our forces, then any 
attempts to seize or destroy it will be futile. 

1 Naval Doctrine Publication 1 - Naval Warfare . 28 March 1994, p 72. 

2 Naval Doctrine Publication 1 - Naval Warfare . 28 March 1994, pp 35. 
(Emphasis in the original indicated by italicized words.) 
(Emphasis added indicated by bold words.) 



118 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 

Naval Doctrine Publication 1 - Naval Warfare 

(Revised a la CG-CC-CR-CV): 

[A] Centers of Gravity and Critical Vulnerabilities . Centers of 
gravity are agents and/or sources of moral or physical strength, 
power, and resistance. Several traditional examples of a 
potential center of gravity include an enemy army or air force 
or component thereof at lower levels of war) national will, or 
an alliance. CGs at all levels of war have inherent "critical 
capabilities" enabling them to function as CGs. In turn, all 
critical capabilities have essential "critical requirements" 
necessary for the realization of those capabilities. "Critical 
Vulnerabilities" are those critical requirements or components 
thereof which are deficient, or vulnerable to neutralization, 
interdiction or attack (moral/physical harm) in a manner 
achieving decisive or significant results, disproportional to the 
military resources applied. 

Centers of Gravity and Critical Vulnerabilities 

[B] In order to continue military operations or national resistance, 
the enemy must have a least one center of gravity; but there 
may be multiple centers of gravity at any particular level of 
war. Once identified, we focus all aspects of our military, 
economic, diplomatic, and political strengths against enemy 
CGs - either directly or indirectly. Frequently the best means 
to weaken and/or neutralize a center of gravity is to exploit one 
or more critical vulnerabilities, such as for example, a lengthy 
unprotected resupply line supporting forces engaged at a 
distance from the home front. To deliver a decisive blow to 
the enemy's center of gravity, we must strike at objectives 
affecting the center of gravity that are both critical to the 
enemy's ability to fight and vulnerable to our offensive actions. 
If the object of a strike is not critical - essential to the enemy's 
ability to stay in the fight - the best result we can achieve is 
some reduction in the enemy's strength. Similarly, if the object 
of a strike is not vulnerable to attack by our forces, then any 
attempts to seize or destroy it will be futile. 



Perspectives on Warfighting 119 



Marine Corps University 

Naval Doctrine Publication 1 - Naval Warfare 

(As Is): 

(continued) 

[C] "The appearance of critical vulnerabilities depends entirely 
upon the situation and specific objective. Some - such as 
electrical power generation and distribution facilities ashore or 
the fleet oilers supporting a task group - may be obvious. On a 
strategic level, examples may include a nation's dependence on 
a certain raw material imported by sea to support its 
warfighting industry, or its dependence on a single source of 
intelligence data as the primary basis for its decisions. 
Alternatively, a critical vulnerability might be an intangible 
such as morale. In any case, we define critical vulnerabilities 
by the central role they play in maintaining or supporting [ ] 
the enemy's center of gravity and, ultimately, his ability to 
resist. [We should not attempt to always designate one 
thing or another as a critical vulnerability.] A critical 
vulnerability frequently is transitory or time-sensitive. [Some 
things, such as the political will to resist, may always be 
critical, but will be vulnerable only infrequently. Other 
things, such as capital cities or an opponent's fleet, may 
often be vulnerable, but are not always critical.] What is 
critical will depend on the situation. What is vulnerable may 
change from one hour to the next. Something may be both 
critical and vulnerable for a brief time only. The commander's 
challenge is to identify quickly enemy strengths and 
weaknesses, and recognize critical vulnerabilities when they 
appear. He must rapidly devise plans to avoid the strengths, 
exploit the weaknesses, and direct the focus of effort toward 
attacking the critical vulnerabilities so that he can ultimately 
collapse the enemy's center of gravity. 



120 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 

Naval Doctrine Publication 1 - Naval Warfare 

(Revised a la CG-CC-CR-CV): 
(continued) 

[C] The appearance of critical vulnerabilities depends entirely 
upon the situation and specific objective. Some - such as 
electrical power generation and distribution facilities ashore or 
the fleet oilers supporting a task group - may be obvious. On a 
strategic level, examples may include a nation's dependence on 
a certain raw material imported by sea to support its 
warfighting industry, or its dependence on a single source of 
intelligence data as the primary basis for its decisions. 
Alternatively, a critical vulnerability might be an intangible 
such as morale. In any case, we define critical vulnerabilities 
by the central role they play in maintaining or supporting 
critical capabilities relative to enemy centers of gravity and, 
ultimately, his ability to resist. Once having designated one 
thing or another as a critical vulnerability, we should remain 
observant and flexible. A critical vulnerability frequently is 
transitory or time-sensitive. Some things, such as the will of a 
leader or population to resist, may always be critical, but might 
be vulnerable only infrequently. Other things, such as capital 
cities or an opponent's fleet oilers, may often be vulnerable, but 
are not always critical. What is critical will depend on the 
situation. What is vulnerable may change from one hour to the 
next. Something may be both critical and vulnerable for a brief 
time only. The commander's challenge is to identify quickly 
enemy strengths and weaknesses, and recognize critical 
vulnerabilities when they appear. He must rapidly devise plans 
to avoid the strengths, exploit the weaknesses, and direct the 
focus of effort toward attacking critical vulnerabilities so that 
he can weaken or neutralize enemy centers of gravity by such 
indirect means alone, or so that he may conduct successfully 
direct attacks against enemy centers of gravity in a prudent 
manner. 



Perspectives on Warfighting 121 



Marine Corps University 

Naval Doctrine Publication 1 - Naval Warfare 

(As Is): 

(continued) 

["Focus of Effort and Main Effort] 

[D] ["The focus of effort is the paramount objective to be 
accomplished by the force [and is therefore always on the 
critical vulnerability] that will expose the enemy's center of 
gravity. ... "] * 



General Commentary on 
Naval Doctrine Publication 1 - Naval Warfare 

As currently written, paragraph B is seriously flawed on 
several counts ~ all of them stemming from the entire 
paragraph being based on a flawed definition of CGs. 

One : The contention that a center of gravity is "not 
necessarily strong or a strength in itself," makes sense only 
according to the current (flawed) Joint/Service definition of 
centers of gravity. Otherwise, it not only contradicts 
Clausewitz, but it flies in the face of common sense and the 
traditional, commonly understood meaning of the term (as 
explained at the beginning of this chapter). Under the 
CG-CC-CR-CV concept, the assertion would continue to be 
valid only within a very narrow meaning of "strong" and 
"strength" (i.e., only if the words were intended to mean 
powerful military forces/units or hardened protected targets 
in an operational or tactical context). Then again, what 
about moral CGs at the lower levels of war? And what 
about having one definition of CGs which applies to all 
levels of war? 

(continued in box on next page) 



1 Naval Doctrine Publication 1 - Naval Warfare . 28 March 1994, pp 35, 37. 
(Emphasis in the original indicated by italicized words.) 
(Emphasis added indicated by bold words.) 



122 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 

Naval Doctrine Publ ication 1 - Naval Warfare 

(Revised a la CG-CC-CR-CV): 
(continued) 

Focus of Effort — The Commander's Judgment 

[D] The focus of effort is directed at that object which will cause 
the most decisive damage to the enemy and which holds the 
best opportunity for success. Commanders should always seek 
critical vulnerabilities that will indirectly expose the enemy's 
center of gravity and thereby facilitate the accomplishment of 
the mission. Nevertheless, the allocation of friendly forces to 
attack critical vulnerabilities, or not-so-vulnerable critical 
requirements, or enemy forces directly, and/or to defend 
friendly assets, is the essence of operational art and is thereby 
left to the commander's judgment. 



Two : The assertion that there "can only be one center 
of gravity" (at each level of war? at the operational level of 
war? only one CG period?) is ludicrous - if anything, it is 
more ludicrous under the current Joint/Service definition of 
CGs than it is under the CG-CC-CR-CV concept. True, the 
enemy must have a resupply line, but is that the only thing 
that he must have to sustain the fight? 

Three : To use lengthy resupply lines as a sole example of a 
CG, when historically more often than not they have been 
sources of actual or potential weakness, is guaranteed to 
generate confusion and misunderstanding. Let's be precise. 
The "capability" to sustain military forces at the end of long 
supply lines has often been a "critical capability" relevant 
to countless strategies throughout history. Although Britain 
and the United States historically have possessed the 
"critical requirements" to make the capability a reality, a 
list of British and American successes stands in contrast to 

(continued in box on page 126) 



Perspectives on War fighting 123 



Marine Corps University 



Naval Doctrine Publication 1 - Naval Warfare 

(As Is): 

(continued) 



YORKTOWN 
Exploiting A Critical Vulnerability 



[E] During the Revolutionary War, British forces in North 

America depended on free use of the adjacent seas to move and 
resupply their ground troops. This became especially critical to 
the British ability to continue fighting in August 1781, on the 
peninsula between Virginia's York and James Rivers, when 
American land forces successfully severed the British Army 
under General Lord Cornwallis from their ground-based 
resupply. At this location, British resupply by sea was 
vulnerable because access to the Yorktown port could be 
denied by controlling entry at the mouth of the Chesapeake 
Bay. The French West Indian Fleet under Rear Admiral 
Francois de Grasse positioned itself at this strategic location in 
advance of the British fleet. When British Admiral Thomas 
Graves arrived to support Cornwallis, de Grasse maneuvered 
his ships to engage the enemy outside the bay. His actions not 
only denied Cornwallis his needed support, but permitted 
another French squadron sailing from Rhode Island to enter the 
bay and reinforce American and French land forces. As a 
result, the British succumbed at Yorktown surrendering their 
entire Army of 7,600 men. The Franco-American alliance was 
effective in blocking British access to and from the sea and 
thereby exploiting this critical vulnerability. Losing their 
ability to sustain their forces by sea doomed the British war 
effort in North America. 1 



Naval Doctrine Publication 1 - Naval Warfare . 28 March 1994, p 36. 



124 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 

Naval Doctrine Publication 1 - Naval Warfare 

(Revised a la CG-CC-CR-CV): 

(continued) 

[E] During the Revolutionary War, the British Army in North 
America (a strategic CG) used adjacent seas for both troop 
movement and resupply. They therefore depended heavily on 
the Royal Navy (a second strategic CG) to maintain naval 
superiority, local and general. This became especially critical 
to the British ability to continue fighting in August 1781, on 
the peninsula between Virginia's York and James Rivers, when 
American land forces successfully severed the British Army 
under General Lord Cornwallis from their ground-based 
resupply. At this location, British resupply by sea (a critical 
capability) was vulnerable because access to the Yorktown port 
(a critical requirement) could be denied by controlling entry at 
the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. The French West Indian 
Fleet under Rear Admiral Francois de Grasse (an operational 
CG) positioned itself at this strategic location in advance of the 
British fleet. When British Admiral Thomas Graves arrived to 
support Cornwallis, de Grasse successfully blocked Grave's 
squadron from entering the bay. This maneuver not only 
denied Cornwallis his needed support, but permitted another 
French squadron sailing from Rhode Island to enter the bay and 
reinforce American and French land forces. As a result, the 
British succumbed at Yorktown, surrendering their entire Army 
of 7,600 men. With British sea power stretched around the 
world, and therefore a bit thin off the American Atlantic coast 
(a critical vulnerability), the Franco-American alliance (a 
strategic CG) saw an opportunity to trap Cornwallis and to gain 
local naval superiority (a critical requirement for both sides) at 
a decisive point, thereby blocking British access to and from 
the sea (a critical capability). By exploiting a temporary critical 
vulnerability, the Franco-American alliance negated the British 
ability to sustain a critical component of their land forces by 
sea, resulting in the surrender of that force, and the loss of 
Britain's will to continue the struggle in North America (a 
critical requirement at the strategic level). 



Perspectives on Warfighting 125 



Marine Corps University 



General Commentary on Naval Doctrine Publication 1 
Naval Warfare 

(continued) 



a long list of classic failures by all nations including, for 
example, the French and German experiences in Russia in 
1812 and 1941, Grant in 1862-63 and Sherman in 1864 
until both temporarily "broke away" from their supply 
lines, German-Italian forces in North Africa in 1942-43, 
German forces in Normandy in 1944, isolated far-flung 
Japanese garrisons in the Pacific in World War II, and 
MacArthur's UN forces in North Korea in November 1950. 

Paragraph C, on the other hand, does its readers a great 
service by stressing the need to remain flexible regarding 
opportunities to exploit transient enemy critical 
vulnerabilities. 

Although paragraph E (Yorktown) clearly explains how 
Cornwallis was cut off and compelled to surrender, it 
leaves each reader to his own conclusions regarding which 
things were centers of gravity and which were critical 
vulnerabilities. With or without acceptance of the 
CG-CC-CR-CV concept, it should be revised to make these 
distinctions clear. 



» » » » » » » » » 



Up Next: USMC FMFM 1 , WARFIGHTING 



126 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 



FMFM 1, Warfighting 



i 



The next twelve pages deal with pages 35-37 in FMFM 1, 
which discuss the twin-concept of critical vulnerabilities and 
exploiting opportunities. The twelve pages are organized in the 
following manner: 



♦ FMFM 1 as written (left-side pages 128, 130 and 132.). 
(Each paragraph is numbered [1 through 7] for 

reference in the general commentary.) 

♦ FMFM 1 as revised a la the CG-CC-CR-CV concept 
(right-side pages from 129 to 139 inclusive ) 

♦ A general commentary on this section of FMFM 1 
(pages 134, 136, 138 and 139). 

These pages are followed by: 

♦ An outline of Principles of War (W/w) used at the 
Marine Corps War College to analyze, assess and 
formulate strategy (pages 140-141) - an intellectual 
construct which is relevant to all Joint/Service doctrinal 
manuals/publications. 



Perspectives on Warfighting 127 



Marine Corps University 



USMC FMFM h Wa rfi ghting (As Is) 



EXPLOITING VULNERABILITY AND OPPORTUNITY [' ] 

[1] It is not enough simply to generate superior combat power. 
We can easily conceive of superior combat power dissipated over 
several unrelated efforts concentrated on some indecisive object. 
To win, we must concentrate combat power toward a decisive aim. 
[footnote number 27 here; reprinted at bottom of this page] 

[2] We obviously stand a better chance of success by concentrating 
strength against enemy weakness rather than against strength. So 
we seek to strike the enemy where, when, and how he is most 
vulnerable. This means that we should generally avoid his front, 
where his attention is focused and he is strongest, and seek out his 
flanks and rear, where he does not expect us and where we can also 
cause the greatest psychological damage. We should also strike at 
that moment in time when he is most vulnerable. 

[3] [Of all the vulnerabilities we might choose to exploit, some 
are more critical to the enemy than others. It follows that the 
most effective way to defeat our enemy is to destroy that which 
is most critical to him. We should focus our efforts on the one 
thing which, if eliminated, will do the most decisive damage to 
his ability to resist us. By taking this from him we defeat him 
outright or at least weaken him severely.] 



[Footnote 27: "We should note that this concept is meaningless 
in attrition warfare in its purest form, since the identification 
of critical vulnerability by definition is based on selectivity, 
which is a foreign thought to the attritionist. In warfare by 
attrition, any target is as good as any other as long as it 
contributes to the cumulative destruction of the enemy.] 2 

1 FMFM 1 Warfighting (Washington, DC: Dept of the Navy, HQUSMC, 6 March 1989) pp 
35-37. 

2 Ibid-, P 85. 



J 28 Perspectives on War/ighting 



Centers of Gravity 

TJSMC FMFM 1, Warfig hting 

(Revised a la CG-CC-CR-CV): 

EXPLOITING VULNERABILITY AND OPPORTUNITY 

It is not enough simply to generate superior combat power. 
We can easily conceive of superior combat power dissipated over 
several unrelated efforts concentrated on some indecisive object. 
To win, we must concentrate combat power toward a decisive aim. 

We obviously stand a better chance of success by 
concentrating strength against enemy weakness rather than against 
strength. So we seek to strike the enemy where, when, and how he 
is most vulnerable. This means that we should generally avoid his 
front, where his attention is focused and he is strongest, and seek 
out his flanks and rear, where he does not expect us and where we 
can also cause the greatest psychological damage. We should also 
strike at that moment in time when he is most vulnerable. 

Choosing which vulnerabilities to exploit and when to 
exploit them requires sound military judgment based upon a 
mature understanding of enemy centers of gravity and related 
critical vulnerabilities. Centers of gravity are sources and/or agents 
of moral or physical strength, power and resistance at a given level 
of war. Examples at the strategic level are national leaders, a 
strong-willed national population (the people), a military service or 
component of it, strong financial resources, or a critical 
manufacturing resource. At the lower levels common examples are 
a military force or component of it, or a skilled and inspirational 
military commander. 



Perspectives on Warfighting 129 



Marine Corps University 

TISMC FMFM 1. Warfighting (As Is): 

(continued) 

[4] Therefore, we should focus our efforts against a critical enemy 
vulnerability. [Obviously, the more critical and vulnerable, the 
better, [footnote number 28 here; reprinted at bottom of this 
page] But this is by no means an easy decision, since the most 
critical object may not be the most vulnerable.] In selecting an 
aim, we thus recognize the need for sound military judgment to 
compare the degree of criticality with the degree of vulnerability 
and to balance both against our own capabilities. Reduced to its 
simplest terms, we should strike our enemy where and when we 
can hurt him most. 



Footnote 28: "Sometimes known as the center of gravity. 
However, there is a danger in using this term. Introducing the term 
into the theory of war, Clausewitz wrote (p. 485): 'A center of 
gravity is always found where the mass is concentrated the most 
densely. It presents the most effective target for a blow; 
furthermore, the heaviest blow is that struck by the center of 
gravity.' Clearly, Clausewitz was advocating a climatic test of 
strength against strength 'by daring all to win all' (p. 596). This 
approach is consistent with Clausewitz' historical perspective. But 
we have since come to prefer pitting strength against weakness. 
Applying the term to modern warfare, we must make it clear that 
by the enemy's center of gravity we do not mean a source of 
strength, but rather a critical vulnerability." [ x ] 



1 Ibid ., p 85. (Emphasis in the original.) Clausewitz page numbers refer to the 1984 
Howard-Paret edition of On War . 



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USMC FMFM 1, Warfighting 

(Revised a la CG-CC-CR-CV): 

(continued) 



Centers of gravity and critical vulnerabilities are linked by 
"critical capabilities" and "critical requirements". Critical 
capabilities are the inherent abilities which enable a center of 
gravity to function as such. To be an effective center of gravity, a 
national leader, for example, must have the ability to stay alive, 
stay informed, communicate with government officials and senior 
military leaders, and remain influential. A national defense 
industrial base requires the ability to obtain essential physical 
resources, transport them to manufacturing centers, process them 
into effective weapons and essential supporting products, and 
transport those weapons and products to the armed forces. At the 
lower levels of war an armored force must have the ability to 
move, shoot and kill. The critical capabilities for a military 
commander identified as a center of gravity are similar to those of 
a national leader. 

All critical capabilities require essential conditions, 
resources and means to make them fully operative. These are 
called "critical requirements". An armored force requires POL and 
a flexible logistics system. Elite units require esprit de corps. 
Military commanders need intelligence and the means to 
communicate. We examine critical requirements to discover 
critical enemy vulnerabilities - actual or potential - which we can 
exploit to undermine, neutralize and/or defeat his center(s) of 
gravity. 



Perspectives on Warfighting J 31 



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USMC FMFM 1, Warfighting (As Is): 

(continued) 

[5] This concept applies equally to the conflict as a whole - the 
war - and to any episode of the war - any campaign, battle, or 
engagement. From this we can conclude that the concept applies 
equally to the strategic, operational, and tactical levels. At the 
highest level a critical vulnerability is likely to be some intangible 
condition, such as popular opinion or a shaky alliance between two 
countries, although it may also be some essential war resource or a 
key city. At the lower levels a critical vulnerability is more likely 
to take on a physical nature, such as an exposed flank, a chokepoint 
along the enemy's lines of operations, a logistics dump, a gap in 
enemy dispositions, or even the weak side armor of a tank. 

[6] [In reality, our enemy's most critical vulnerability will 
rarely be obvious,] particularly at the lower levels. We may have 
to adopt the tactic of exploiting any and all vulnerabilities until we 
discover a decisive opportunity. 

[7] This leads us to a corollary thought: exploiting opportunity. 
[Decisive results in war are rarely the direct result of an initial, 
deliberate action. Rather, the initial action creates the 
conditions for subsequent actions which develop from it.] As 

the opposing wills interact, they create various, fleeting 
opportunities for either foe. Such opportunities are often born of 
the disorder that is natural in war. They may be the result of our 
own actions, enemy mistakes, or even chance. By exploiting 
opportunities, we create in increasing numbers more opportunities 
for exploitation. It is often the ability and the willingness to 
ruthlessly exploit these opportunities that generate decisive results. 
The ability to take advantage of opportunity is a function of speed, 
flexibility, boldness, and initiative. [ l ] 

(End FMFM 1 "As Is") 



1 FMFM 1 Warfighting (Washington, DC: Dept of the Navy, HQUSMC, 6 March 1989) pp 
35-37. (Emphasis in the original.) 



132 Perspectives on Warfighting 



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USMC FMFM 1. Warfighting 

(Revised a la CG-CC-CR-CV): 

(continued) 

"Critical Vulnerabilities" are those critical requirements or 
components thereof which are deficient, or vulnerable to 
neutralization, interdiction or attack (moral/physical harm) in a 
manner achieving decisive or significant results, disproportional to 
the military resources applied. Within the context of pitting 
friendly strengths against enemy weaknesses, commanders will 
understandably want to focus their efforts against those objects 
which will do the most decisive damage to the enemy's ability to 
resist. But in selecting those objects we must compare their 
degree of criticality with their degree of vulnerability and to 
balance both against our capabilities. 

Understanding the relationship among centers of gravity, 
critical capabilities, and critical vulnerabilities (i.e., vulnerable 
critical requirements), permits and demands precision in thought 
and expression. In our business, precision is important. Consider 
the example of an enemy air defense system that is well developed 
and equipped, robust, and manned with well-trained crews. The 
friendly commander regards it as an enemy center of gravity - an 
agent/instrument of strength and power. But his planners have also 
identified a number of critical vulnerabilities: the system's primary 
power supply, its command and control net, and its radar sites (the 
latter to advanced technology missiles when the sites are 'turned 
on 1 ). There are two ways to express/brief this situation: 

First : "Sir. The enemy air defense system is a vital component of 
the enemy's overall military power in this theater of operations; it 
is one of his principal centers of gravity in this theater of 
operations. It must be destroyed or neutralized before we can 
conduct effective, sustained air attacks against any of his front-line 
ground forces or his mobile, elite reserve units. Fortunately, the air 
defense system is highly vulnerable. In fact, we consider it to be 

("Revised" continued on page 135) 



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General Commentary on FMFM 1, Warfighting 

"A? I?" Paragraph: 

[1] Footnote 27 is not necessary. Nor is it fair. 
Referring to attrition warfare in its "purest form" is 
meaningless and a cheap shot against all practitioners of 
attrition warfare. The implication that all (or even most) 
past practitioners of attrition warfare have selected just any 
old target is both false and misleading. There is such a 
thing as intelligent or enlightened attrition warfare - and 
there may be times when it has to be adopted. A danger 
associated with the promotion and adoption of 'maneuver 
warfare' is that Marines and soldiers and the public which 
they serve may come to expect that all future warfare and 
conflict will be relatively bloodless. (In this respect, the 
results of Operation Desert Storm may be as much of a 
curse in the future as they were a blessing in 1991 .) 

[3] The first two sentences are inherently addressed in 
the CG-CC-CR-CV concept. I believe that the last two 
sentences in this paragraph are not sound advice. The 
practice of placing 'all your eggs in a single basket' is 
usually not wise. Moreover, there is rarely just "one" such 
thing ... ; or commanders may miscalculate what that "one" 
thing is. Furthermore, the debate which identifies that 
"one" thing may be so intense and may hinge upon 
discriminators which are too fine, as to lead to eventual 
disharmony among planners and/or those responsible for 
executing the plans. 

(continued in box on page 136) 



134 Perspectives on Warfighting 



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USMC FMFM h Warfighting 

(Revised a la CG-CC-CR-CV): 

(continued) 

the enemy's number one critical vulnerability, which we intend to 
exploit in the following manner. Prior to D-Day we will use 
ouradvanced technology missiles to destroy or neutralize the 
system's radar sites while we simultaneously target the system's 
primary power supply and principal command and control centers. 
Sir, with the air defense system disposed of, the rest of our plan 

will unfold in the following manner " Despite calling the air 

defense system both a center of gravity and a critical vulnerability, 
the briefing probably would be clear enough and good enough, 
most of the time for most people. But consider the alternative: 

Second : "Sir. We regard the enemy's air defense system to be one 
of his principal centers of gravity in this theater of operations. It 
must be destroyed or neutralized before we can conduct effective, 
sustained air attacks against any of his front-line ground forces or 
his mobile, elite reserve units. To be effective, the vital 
components of the air defense system have to be able to see us, 
communicate internally, and shoot. See, talk, shoot - these are the 
system's critical capabilities. Based on our ex- amination of the 
system's critical requirements which enable it to see, talk and 
shoot, we have identified and plan to exploit three critical 
vulnerabilities: prior to D-Day we will use our advanced 
technology missiles to destroy or neutralize the system's radar sites 
while simultaneously targeting the system's primary power supply 
and principal C2 centers. Sir, with the air defense system no 
longer able to see, talk, or shoot, the rest of our plan will unfold in 
the following manner " 

The second version expresses more clearly the relationship 
and linkage between center of gravity and critical vulnerability. 
The power supply, command and control net, and radar sites are 
the "critical vulnerabilities," not the air defense system itself. The 

("Revised" continued on page 137) 



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General Commentary on FMFM 1, Warfighting 

(continued) 
"As Is" Paragraph : 

[4] First, delete footnote 28 (on page 85 of FMFM 1) 
which turns the traditional Clausewitzian definition of a 
center of gravity inside out by stating that today we think of 
centers of gravity as being critical vulnerabilities - sources 
of weaknesses, instead of strength. Second, the second 
and third sentences create confusion by suggesting degrees 
of vulnerability among the possible collection of all critical 
vulnerabilities (i.e., that some CVs may be more or less 
vulnerable than others), as well as suggesting that one or 
more CVs may be more important (more critical) than 
others. While this may be true, I believe that it overly 
complicates the matter given the small amount of space 
available in FMFM 1 to discuss the matter. They also 
suggest that there may be a wide range of enemy CVs, 
which risks watering down the concept of a CV (regarding 
both its "criticality" and its "vulnerability") to the point 
where its critical meaning and usefulness is lost. To be so 
identified, a CV should be a 'critically' important 
requirement (not a 'quite' important requirement) and it 
should be 'readily/highly' vulnerable (not 'somewhat' 
vulnerable). 

This does raise the issue of the choice between 
attacking a CV or attacking another object/critical 
requirement which may be more important but less 
vulnerable (i.e., the cost of attacking it may be greater, but 
the reward for neutralizing, degrading, or destroying it may 
also be greater). This is nothing more than the traditional 
"cost vs. gain" dilemma. The revised wording of these 
sentences is sufficiently open and balanced to address both 
the CV concept and the traditional cost vs. gain dilemma. 

(continued in box on page 138) 



J 36 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 

USMC FMFM 1. Warfighting 

(Revised a la CG-CC-CR-CV): 

(continued) 

vulnerability is the thing which makes the center of gravity 
vulnerable. At the strategic level critical vulnerabilities range from 
such things as weak popular support or a shaky alliance between 
two countries, to an essential economic resource such as oil, 
electric power, or a key port. At the lower levels common 
examples of critical vulnerabilities are an exposed flank or a gap in 
enemy dispositions (traditionally referred to as "weaknesses"), or a 
chokepoint along the enemy's lines of operations, a logistics dump, 
or even the weak side armor of a tank. 

At the strategic level we should generally be able to discern 
the enemy's critical vulnerabilities - including his most critical 
vulnerability - assuming that we conduct a thorough analysis of his 
moral and physical characteristics, and understand the true nature 
of the conflict. At the lower levels, where the fog and friction of 
battle have their greatest effect, our enemy's most critical 
vulnerability is normally less obvious. There is always the 
possibility of miscalculation and error at any level, even if we 
believe that we know our enemy well and have reliable 
intelligence. Therefore, the success of any plan of action 
(particularly at the lower levels) should not be overly predicated 
upon decisive results being achieved by an initial, deliberate 
action. 

This leads us to a corollary thought: exploiting 
opportunity. In all cases, the commander and his subordinates 
should be prepared to react to the unexpected and to exploit 
opportunities created by conditions which develop from the initial 
action. In cases where identification of enemy critical 
vulnerabilities is particularly difficult, we may have no choice but 
to adopt the tactic of exploiting any and all vulnerabilities until we 
discover a decisive opportunity. As the opposing wills interact, 
they create various, fleeting opportunities for either foe. Such op- 

("Revised" continued on page 139) 



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General Commentary on FMFM 1, Warfighting 

(continued) 
"As I?" Paragraph: 

[6] First, regardless of past experience, in the future we can 
do better at discerning our enemy's most critical 
vulnerabilities, assuming that we do our homework in a 
professional manner in accordance with the Principles of 
War (W/w) outlined on pages 140-141. Second (and 
contrary to the first sentence in this paragraph), in 
counterinsurgency warfare we have seen many examples of 
where enemy critical vulnerabilities were all too obvious 
at the lower levels of war, which is why many misguided 
counterinsurgency strategies have over-emphasized military 
solutions at the expense of political ones. Finally, the fact 
that all battles involve some degree of fog and friction does 
not excuse operational and tactical commanders from 
knowing their enemy's general strengths and weaknesses. 

[7] At the strategic level, the initial strategy and its 
associated operations should be so conceived and executed 
as to ensure at least ultimate "decisive results". That is the 
very purpose and function of strategy. Whereas bad 
strategy and bad ideas = bad results; good and good = good. 
(After all, there are reasons why some planners and plans 
are better than others.) Even at the lower levels of war, 
initial deliberate actions often have achieved decisive 
results. This is in fact the aim of initial deliberate actions. 
Given good decisions based on the best available 
information, a commander should design an opening 
gambit to place the enemy in a situation where he is 
damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. None of this, 
however, negates the main thrust of this paragraph. 
Even if we think we know the enemy's critical vulnerabil- 

(continued in box on next page) 



J 38 Perspectives on Warfighting 



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USMC FMFM 1, Warfighting 

(Revised a la CG-CC-CR-CV): 

(continued) 



portunities are often born of the disorder that is natural in war. 
They may be the result of our own actions, enemy mistakes, or 
even chance. By exploiting opportunities, we create in increasing 
numbers more opportunities for exploitation. It is often the ability 
and the willingness to ruthlessly exploit these opportunities that 
generate decisive results. The ability to take advantage of 
opportunity is a function of speed, flexibility, boldness and 
initiative. 

(End FMFM 1 Revised) 



General Commentary on FMFM 1, Warfighting 

(continued) 
"As Is" Paragraph : 

ity(ies), there is the chance and risk of miscalculation. And 
despite our best efforts, there will be times when we can 
not be sure about enemy vulnerabilities. There will also be 
times when there just ain't no easy path, no alternative 
except to take the first step and go from there. For these 
reasons, and because there will continue to be some degree 
of fog and friction on any battlefield, commanders should 
always be prepared (and prepare their forces) to react to the 
unexpected and to exploit opportunities as they occur. 

(End General Commentary on FMFM 1) 



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PRINCIPLES OF WAR (W/w) 

□ Capital " W" War (the strategic level) 

♦ Know Your Enemy, Yourself & Allies (history, culture, 

society, in addition to orders of battle, etc.) 

♦ Determine (and Shape) the Nature of the Conflict. 

♦ Identify Enemy & Friendly Centers of Gravity and Critical 

Vulnerabilities. 

♦ Know and Respect the Limits of Military Power: 

o Hearts and Minds of the People, and Orders of Battle; 
o Legitimacy and the Credible Capacity to Coerce. 

♦ Ponder: l 

1) Relationship between Military Victory and End State, 

2) Assumptions (their validity and criticality), 

3) Alternative Strategies for various Possibilities or Failure 
at Future Decision Points, 

° Branches and Sequels (if that happens, then v/hat?) 

4) Odds for Victory. 

♦ Proceed - or Not - Accordingly: 
o without modifications 

o with modifications 
o or, do not proceed. 

♦ Operate IAW Holistic 2 National Security and Military 
Effectiveness (i.e., Coherent 3 and Synergistic 4 Actions At and 
Among All Levels of War/MOOTW: National-Strategic, Theater- 
Strategic, Operational and Tactical) 



Ponder : Weigh or appraise carefully. Think about : consider. Meditate : reflect. 

2 Holistic : 2a. Emphasizing the importance of the whole and the interdependence of its parts. 
Holism : The theory that reality is made up of organic or unified wholes greater than the simple 
sum of their parts. 

1 Coherent : 1. Sticking together : cohering. 2. Marked by an orderly or logical relation of parts 
that affords comprehension or recognition. Cohere : vi. 2. To be logically connected, vt. To cause 
to form a united or orderly whole. 

4 Synergism : 1 . The action of two or more substances, organs, or organisms to achieve an effect 
of which each is individually incapable. 



NO Perspectives on Warfighting 



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PRINCIPLES OF WAR (W/w) 

(continued) 
D small "w" war (operational and tactical levels): 



♦ Operate IAW appropriate small V Principles of 
Conventional War, Unconventional War 
(Counterinsurgency and Small Wars), or Military 
Operations Other Than War. 



Notes: 

1) Capital "W" war and small "w" war generally overlap at the 
theater-strategic level. 

2) Having said that, in Unconventional War and MOOTW actions 
and dynamics at the operational and tactical levels have a 
greater potential to affect actions and dynamics at the 
national-strategic level more quickly and profoundly (and vice 
versa) than is generally the case with conventional war. 



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Chapter 6 



Parting Shots & Recommendations 



Critical Capabilities Are Important, 
But They Are Not Centers of Gravity 



Critical Capabilities are just that - very, very important 
(even vital) capabilities without which one will most likely fail. 
But that does not make them centers of gravity. Furthermore, and 
contrary to the current Joint Pub definition discussed in chapter 5, 
centers of gravity are not characteristics, capabilities, or 
locations; they are the moral, political and physical entities which 
possess certain characteristics and capabilities, or benefit from a 
given location/terrain. ] 



Identifying Centers of Gravity 
Should Not Normally Be the Hard Part I 






Identifying enemy and friendly centers of gravity should be 
relatively easy. Centers of gravity are significant entities at a 
given level and are usually obvious to skilled practitioners of war 
operating in accordance with the Principles of War (W/w) outlined 
above on pages 140-141. If any part of this process is hard, it 
should be how to defeat enemy centers of gravity (especially in 

1 See chapter 4, page 43. 



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conflict and operations other than conventional war), not how to 
identify them. This is another reason why the current Joint/Service 
definition of centers of gravity needs to be revised. The current 
Joint/Service definition, if taken literally, can make the 
identification of enemy and friendly centers of gravity an overly 
complicated and contentious process. 




... 



Adopting a single Joint/Service definition of a center of 
gravity (one is also required for critical vulnerabilities, even 
without accepting the CG-CC-CR-CV concept) is the right thing to 
do. However, it must also be an appropriate definition, which it 
currently is not. The preceding chapters have shown the degree to 
which previous Joint/Service doctrine manuals/publications are 
flawed by confusion and contradiction regarding centers of gravity 
and critical vulnerabilities. On this matter, the current 
Joint/Service doctrine manuals/publications are not much better 
than their predecessors. 

A possible explanation for the current situation may be 
insufficient understanding of, or regard for, Clausewitz' On War 
and the traditional meaning of the term "centers of gravity" as it 
was understood by Clausewitz and has been used by hundreds of 
preeminent American military professionals and scholars of 
military history in the 20th Century. Still waters run deep; and we 
should be more cautious about changing the meaning of such 
fundamental concepts as cavalierly as one would erase a classroom 
blackboard. Old ideas no longer relevant must be replaced by 
newer, more relevant ideas - that is progress. Without it, we will 
atrophy as military professionals - a condition which is 
inexcusable, unprofessional, and intolerable. But we don't always 
have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. 



144 Perspectives on Warfighting 



Centers of Gravity 

The preceding chapters have demonstrated that we can 
promote and practice all the common sense, insight, and wisdom 
associated with the concepts of "maneuver warfare" and "critical 
vulnerabilities" without reinventing the definition of "centers of 
gravity". To do otherwise is to perpetuate a needless self-inflicted 
wound, which automatically placed the current Joint/Service 
doctrinal definition of centers of gravity at odds with most of the 
books on the USMC Commandant's Reading List/Program as well 
as the vast number of those which directly or indirectly support all 
of the Intermediate and Senior Service School curricula within the 
DOD Professional Military Education system. This is a foolish 
situation, which can be easily fixed. 



» » » » » » » » » 



Next Page: "The CG-CC-CR-CV PROCESS" 

and a couple of "remembers" 



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At each level of war the commander and his staff should: 

(1 ) Identify enemy and friendly centers of gravity. 

(2) Identify those "critical capabilities" inherent in each center of 
gravity which enable it to function as a center of gravity (i.e., 
what things must each CG be able to do to exert the moral or 
physical power which makes it a CG). 

(3) Identify those "critical requirements" which enable each of the 

"critical capabilities" to be realized. (Example: if "mobility" 
is listed as a critical capability for a RED armored corps at the 
operational level, then "an effective POL supply and resupply 
system" would be an associated "critical requirement". 
Likewise, if "mobility during the day" were listed as a RED 
critical capability, then "a reasonably effective air defense 
system" would be another associated "critical requirement" - 
given, of course, the existence of a powerful BLUE air 
interdiction capability.) 

(4) Identify "critical requirements" or components thereof which 
are deficient, or vulnerable (or potentially so) to friendly 
neutralization, interdiction or attack. These are the enemy's 
"critical vulnerabilities". 

(5) Devise a strategy, campaign plan, or plan of attack which 
takes maximum advantage of one or more enemy "critical 
vulnerabilities". 

♦ REMEMBER: (1) Steps 1 - 4 do not have to be conducted in 
a precise or rigid sequential manner. (2) Insights related to a 
higher-numbered step might influence decisions made at a 
lower-numbered step and vice versa. (3) While all steps need 
to be accomplished in a professional manner, steps 4 & 5 may 
require superior creativity and judgment. 



146 Perspectives on Warfighting 



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l ll li l lill ll ll l ll l li ll I II i IIIIII TTnTITrTITTnTr TTTTTTninilTnilllMMm 

RECOMMENDATIONS 




Even if we do NOT accept the CG-CC-CR-CV concept we 
at least need to : 

1. Get the current Joint/Service doctrinal manuals/publications 
straight regarding centers of gravity and critical vulnerabilities. 
This means returning to the Clausewitzian meaning of centers of 
gravity as being agents or sources of strength and adopting the 
meaning of critical vulnerabilities as sources of actual or potential 
weakness as explained in USMC FMFM 1 (with the exception, of 
course, of footnote 28). l We should discard all other notions of 
either concept, regardless of the source of their inspiration, whether 
it be the dynamics of mechanical engineering or the buoyancy of 
ships, or whatever. This is not to say that insights and analogies 
from these latter fields are not useful in illustrating the importance 
and effects of "critical requirements" in support of "critical 
capabilities" inherent in centers of gravity (i.e., the nature and 
structure of the relationship between critical requirements, critical 
capabilities and centers of gravity). 

If we ACCEPT the CG-CC-CR-CV concept, then we need 
to do even more: 

2. Revise the current Joint/Service definition of centers of gravity. 

3. Include the CG-CC-CR-CV concept and definitions in all 

current Joint/Service doctrinal manuals/publications. 

4. Modify the accompanying "elaborating texts" in each 

manual/publication accordingly, along lines suggested in 
chapter 5. 

1 See above, pages 130 and 136 of chapter 5, for the footnote and a discussion of it. 



Perspectives on Warfighting 147 



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5. Follow through with appropriate changes regarding 

Joint/Service education and training programs at all levels. 

6. Talk the same language regardless of service and 

regardless of level of war, while we - in all services and 
DOD departments and agencies - continue to formulate 
strategy and conduct operations consistent with the sound 
insight and wisdom found in all of the current Joint/Service 
doctrine manuals/publications. 



148 Perspectives on Warfighting 



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Appendix 



"Critical Capabilities" and 
"Critical Requirements" 

in Relation to 

Other "Capabilities" and 

"Requirements" Terms 

Used in the DOD Community 



"Critical" 
Capabilities 



"Supporting" Capabilities 



: 



and "Military" Capabilities 



Form a Clear and Logical Pyramidal Relationship 



The term "Military Capability" is defined in Joint Pub 1-02 
(23 March 1994, page 237): 

"military capability - The ability to achieve a specified 
wartime objective (win a war or battle, destroy a target set). 
It includes four major components: force structure, 
modernization, readiness, and sustainability. a. force 
structure - Numbers, size, and composition of the units 
that comprise our Defense forces; e.g., divisions, ships, 
airwings. b. modernization - Technical sophistication of 
forces, units, weapon systems, and equipments. c. 
readiness - The ability of forces, units, weapon systems, or 
equipments to deliver the outputs for which they were 



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designed (includes the ability to deploy and employ without 
unacceptable delays), d. sustainability - The ability to 
maintain the necessary level and duration of operational 
activity to achieve military objectives. Sustainability is a 
function of providing for and maintaining those levels of 
ready forces, materiel, and consumables necessary to 
support military effort." 

The discussion of "military capabilities" in National Military 
Strategy of the United States of America 1995 (pages ii-iii and 
17-18) stresses that United States "combat forces and supporting 
capabilities are built on five fundamental foundations": the high 
quality of manpower, readiness, force enhancements, modern- 
ization, and balance. 

"Supporting Capabilities" - as discussed in Joint Pub 1 
(chapter IV, pages 7-9) - are "the key collective capabilities of the 
Armed Forces of the United States to wage war," which are the 
"foundations of the joint operational art" and "joint campaigns". 
These collective capabilities are capabilities relative to: 

♦ securing air and maritime superiority and space control; 

♦ forcible entry operations; 

♦ transportation assets required for strategic power projection 

and the operational mobility of air, naval, and land forces; 

♦ deep-ranging direct attacks against enemy strategic centers 
of gravity ("by air, missile, special operations," etc.); 

♦ special operations at the operational level; 

♦ exploiting the information differential (information war- 
fare); and 

♦ friendly forces achieving leverage (advantages) against 
enemy forces in both symmetrical ("land versus land") and 
asymmetric ("air versus sea") engagements. 

That "supporting capabilities" stem directly from "military 
capabilities" is intuitively obvious. In turn, "supporting capabi- 
lities" and "critical capabilities" are closely related concepts. They 
are often (but not always) nearly identical; when they are not, a 



150 Perspectives on Warfighting 



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given "critical capability" will invariably be a narrow aspect of a 
related broader category of "supporting capability". Collectively, 
these three concepts form a bottom-up pyramidal relationship, in 
which basic "military capabilities" provide the foundation for 
progressively more specific "supporting" and "critical" capabilities. 



"Critical" Requirements, 

"Military" Requirements, 

and Acquisition Requirements 




Apples . In the realm of Defense Acquisition, acquisition 
requirements are established to achieve and maintain national and 
Service military capabilities and supporting capabilities. 
Tangerines . In the realm of strategy and operations, "Military 
Requirements" are "established need[s] justifying the timely 
allocation of resources to achieve a capability to accomplish 
approved military objectives, missions, or tasks." l Orang es. The 
reader knows the definition and meaning of the term "critical 
requirements" a la the CG-CC-CR-CV concept. Among these 
three terms, the first exists in a totally separate and distinct 
environment and context - the realm of Defense Acquisition 
(apples). The latter two terms, however, are closely related and 
used in similar environments and contexts (as are tangerines and 
oranges). Nevertheless, there are differences between tangerines 
and oranges; and there is a clear and distinct difference between 
"military" and "critical" requirements. "Critical requirements" is a 
concept integral to an intellectual process used by military 
commanders and their planning staffs to identify enemy (and 

1 Joint Pub 1-02 . 23 March 1 994, p 240. 



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friendly) centers of gravity and critical vulnerabilities, for the 
purpose of determining the best strategy, campaign plan, and 
course of action in a given scenario. The term "military 
requirements" comes into play outside of that process, either before 
or after that process occurs. Before that process, in the sense that 
peacetime "military requirements" for a CINC's Area of 
Responsibility (AOR) are established in accordance with 
preapproved military (peacetime and wartime) objectives, missions 
and tasks. In the event of a crisis, a CINC and his staff already 
know the forces, assets and capabilities which are available or 
likely to be automatically forthcoming. In response to a crisis, the 
CINC and his staff conduct the CG-CC-CR-CV process to 
determine the best way to achieve mission success based on those 
forces, assets and capabilities. After that process, in the sense that 
the CINC and his staff might conclude that the available (and 
automatically forthcoming) forces, assets and capabilities are 
insufficient for the objectives, missions and tasks confronting 
them. In this case the CINC would request either (1) an increase in 
the forces, assets, and capabilities allocated to him based on an 
increased need/"military requirement," or (2) a reduction in the 
objectives, missions and tasks expected of his command. (The 
same is more or less true for commanders at the operational level 
during war or times of crises.) The terms "military requirement" 
and "critical requirement" need not create confusion as long as we 
understand their relationship and the context in which each applies. 



The End 



152 Perspectives on Warfighting 



U 102 .P47 no. 4 2nd ed. 
strange, Joe. 
Centers of gravity & 
critxcal vulnerabilities 




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